The Joy of the Ordinary
INTERESTING STUFF – 10 June 2017

Some Reason for Hope

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Although I could argue the point, it is possible there is always reason for hope and I found that on Wednesday during my consult with the surgeon and his team.

Having decided that formality is a good posture to adopt while facing the news of one's mortality, I dressed up for the occasion. I have never been able to get comfortable with suburban (and even urban) Oregon casual anyway, so I wore a pair of my best pants, dressy shoes with a small high heel and a velvet shirt worn loose (my concession to casual) with a big, fancy sun hat. (It was a gorgeous spring day.)

I was apprehensive, frightened too, but equally eager to know my future and, maybe ghoulishly, how long I can expect it to be.

Tests in the hospital last week and more in followup examinations since then show that I have a malignant tumor in my pancreas. The surgeon has a handy, multi-colored rendering on the wall of the inside of the human body and he pointed out the pancreas, showed me where exactly within it my tumor is located, the nearby gall bladder, duodenum and other body parts I had hoped never to know about.

Then he said this: my pancreatic cancer is “potentially curable” and this: patients with a tumor similar to mine wholly contained within the pancreas and in my otherwise healthy physical condition have a 25-30 percent “cure rate.”

Now I wouldn't take those odds to Las Vegas but considering that only about five-to-seven percent of people in the whole universe of pancreatic cancer survive, I'll go with it.

And in case you were wondering (I was), what would happen if I reject the surgery and do nothing (the only real alternative in this case), “you'll be dead within a year,” he said.

The surgeon will perform a Whipple procedure (look it up) in which the diseased part of my pancreas will be removed along with my gall bladder and some other bits and pieces.

It's a long, complex surgery, he said, about eight hours. I'll spend a day afterward in the ICU and another seven to 10 days in hospital. If I'm strong enough by then, I can continue recovery at home instead of rehab. His goal, the surgeon told me, is to return me to a normal quality of life (See Wednesday's post).

As with all surgery, there are risks and there are, sometimes, post-operative complications to deal with. Even without those, recovery is difficult and will pretty much take up the rest of this year.

The surgery date is 20 June. I asked what I can do in these next two weeks to best prepare my body for what I think of as an assault. Exercise and good nutrition, the team said. Eat, eat, eat. Exercise, exercise, exercise.

Obviously, there are many more details but be honest, can you stand even this much?

My surgeon and his team are world-class - he is a well-known pancreas researcher and I am in excellent hands. And this kind of prognosis, small percentage as it is, gives me huge incentive to work hard at helping my body prepare and afterwards, to heal.

Now, two TGB items. First, your support is wonderful. I hadn't given any thought to how this announcement would be received so the outpouring was a surprise and shock – in the best sense of the word. You have no idea how much you all mean to me.

Second, on Wednesday, reader dkzody commented that she thought pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnosis and wondered what the “mystery malady” I mentioned was.

She is right about the difficulty and I'll tell you about my experience with that on Monday. But then I think that even though my current personal circumstance is uppermost in my mind every day, it's probably not in yours and we can get back to the real goal of this blog – what growing old is really like – for awhile.

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Comments

It was close to 20 years ago when I learned I'd have to have a complete hysterectomy after two years of a mystery malady that they weren't diagnosing for that long. I decided to find an acupuncturist and had two sessions before the surgery was scheduled. He told me he could have shrunk the fibroids but frankly the situation was beyond that. The doctors were not sure (two opinions from different clinics) that it wasn't cancer. My feeling was the acupuncture did help my recovery. Others have claimed the same thing. It can't hurt (unless someone thinks it can do more than increase healing energy). I had a quick recovery, which of course, might've been coincidental...

Appreciate the information and love your attitude. Dressing up for doctor's is a long thing in the past for me. :-) hats aren't.

Your report and the team you have sounds as good as it gets under the circumstances. So happy to hear that. There are a good many reports of successes with the Whipple procedure.

For my money, I'd prefer you expressing whatever you feel like expressing on the this site. I suspect you will find your view of all the ordinary subjects is a bit different from your usual take. I look forward to your observations in that regard.

June 20 will be forever coming/and here before you know it.

It is in times like this, we come to understand a bit of what it means to live in the now.

We were all hoping for a little "good" news and we got it.
As a survivor of some nasty abdominal surgery a couple of years ago, I can tell you that finishing your recovery at home is the way to go. Nursing home/ rehab facilities (even the best ones) are depressing and stressful. And stress is the last thing you need right now.

Ronni, In preparation for the surgery, along with exercise and good nutrition, I suggest you also do some regular meditation, "seeing" your tumor shrink as your white blood cells gobble it up and it goes out of your body. "See" (imagine) the surgeon working on you feeling fine (the surgeon, that is), "see" the operation proceeding smoothly and your body dealing with it as a solution, quickly bouncing back to normal vital signs, strength, etc., with no remaining cancer cells. Perhaps you're familiar with this Simonton method of directing your mind to take care of the body. If not, I refer you to "Getting Well Again" by Simontons. The least this will do is make you less anxious and prepared for the big day. Once upon a time I taught this.

>>and we can get back to the real goal of this blog

But isn't this part of what growing older is really like? Perhaps not in your details but the overall experience?

When I got my welcome to Medicare physical with a new doctor I told him I wouldn't be seeing him much. I just don't do doctors. But the last 5 years I have seen him more than any two other doctors combined.

We are relatively weaker and more physically troubled than we were. Sometimes it is with little things. Sometimes it is with big things. We deal with them and move forward in our different ways.

It's just that this time it's not an intellectual exercise for you. You are showing us directly how to grow old gracefully.

Wow, wow and wow again!
Amongst a rash of "first world problems" (this side of the screen) you're approach, demeanour and dress code are awesome!
And I'm loving the seeming glimmer of good news in what read like a super gloomy diagnosis.
Lots of love..

Hoping for a great outcome.

I only recently started reading this blog, but have enjoyed it every day. I just want to let you know that one of my high school classmates had the Whipple procedure and is now cancer-free. The surgery is long, but hopefully the outcome will be worth it.

Thank you for your strength and clarity of mind right now. You are going through something that is beyond my comprehension but not beyond my empathy. I am currently dealing with a health issue that has me down and out. Reading your posts helps me a great deal. They give me hope to carry on each day. Thanks again.

I agree with Denny. Sharing this experience IS, in fact, all part of the "real goal" of this blog. You have trained us well, so we know that illness and doctor visits are not all there is to getting old. But still, these things need to be explored as part of "what it's really like to get old." Thank you for what you've shared so far, and thank you for being willing to keep sharing. We need to know this stuff.

You have given so much hope and inspiration to so many over the years through this blog. I love your humour and strength in the face of this adversity. Sending you best wishes for a positive outcome.

Ronni-- Everything you share with us --be it your knowledge about getting older or your personal journey is interesting to us.

I agree with the thoughts of S C Jones -- she stated---"For my money, I'd prefer you expressing whatever you feel like expressing on the this site. I suspect you will find your view of all the ordinary subjects is a bit different from your usual take. I look forward to your observations in that regard."

My wish for you is that you be one of the lucky ones---

I think, Ronnie, that this is part of what growing old is really like, granted it unfortunately happens to those not yet growing old as well.
Thanks for sharing.

Such hopeful news, Ronni! I will cross my fingers and toes and eyes and whatever else can possibly be crossed, wishing for the best.

Ronni, you are in my thoughts and prayers and I wish you the best of all possible outcomes.
All good wishes from Albuquerque,
Helen Horwitz

Hey Ronni, I've read your blog for at least 8 years or more...can't remember. Your diagnosis was such a shock. The idea that your blog won't be in my email is upsetting. Funny how you can form a bond with someone you've never met or corresponded with. I hope that you will keep us updated on your recovery, we worry about you. I know that you are fiercely independent but I hope that you will allow people to help when they offer.

I can't add much more to any of the comments because each contain something I wanted to say! LOL. What a great bunch of friends you have out here, Ronni. That alone is on the plus side. BTW, someone in a recent comment, earlier post referred to perhaps reading Norman Cousins book "Anatomy of an Illness." It's also helpful preparing for recovery. Sending good Karma your way, Dee :)

I missed Wednesday post so this is the first I'm hearing about your cancer. I'm so sorry you have to go through this and wish you the very best outcome from your surgery.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, Ronni.

A book I found helpful was "Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster" by Peggy Huddleston. It's a guide to Mind-Body techniques. I shared the strategy that I wanted to use during my surgery with both my surgeon and the anesthesiologist. They were both not only supportive, but pleased to assist with this. I had them agree to say "healing statements" while I was under anesthesia, convinced that I would at some level be able to "hear". In fact, the surgeon wrote them down. Post surgery I learned that I needed far less anesthesia than would ordinarily be given for my procedure, and I was able to return home sooner than usual. The surgeon remarked that the preparation that I had done was the key to both outcomes.

I shall continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers and send healing energy your way.

First off: Yes, continue recovery at home. I have twice been told this by nurses and they are absolutely right--you eat when you want to and you sleep when you want to and your books and flowers and trees are there for you. I do have a very caring second husband, who is 9 years younger than I am and he has taken over the heavier housework and the garden.

I am 80 years old and since my late teens I have been promised life expectancies of 40, then 50, then 60 and am now living on borrowed time and have been doing so since a heart attack at 71. My medical history looks like a disaster but here I still am. I came out of Eastern Europe at the age of 11 with lung and spinal tuberculosis. Two years in a sanatorium, then OK until second pregnancy at age of 26. Recurrence of TB and lost a lung. Then the heart attack mentioned which resulted in 2 stents being placed and last year a slight stroke.

I have congestive heart failure which will probably be the reason for my end but my cardiologist is super and I feel content and hopeful. I did ask "What would happen if I stopped taken all these pills?" His reply ""You soon wouldn't be here".

Skip all this , your state of mind and body are much more important here, but I am wanting to say that life continues and it is good, even if different in many ways. Every day becomes more precious and when you have started your main, frightening treatments you can settle down to this.

I found your blog recently and enjoy it in every way--most of all your honesty and recent sharing of what is happening in your life.

Best wishes and take care, Erika W.

I love your spirit, Ronni.

Add a little...no, a lot of laughter and silliness into you "waiting" period. Of course, you don't need me to advise you on best things for you.

I like the idea of dressing up for appointments. I think and feel better with even just a little bit of "Sunday go to meeting" attire. Mr. Bruce & I both are more comfortable in our generation's styles.

Ronni,

I am holding the warmest of thoughts for you now and especially on June 20. You mention feeling surprise at the respond of your readers. I feel sure there is a lot of Love for you out in cyberspace. Count me as one s being the Love and Light for your healing.

I have my calendar marked June 2nd for extra prayers and positive thoughts for you.
My husband works with a man who survived pancreatic cancer. He is an older gentleman.
So, it's not so impossible.
Thank you for sharing this news and as much of your recovery that you can. We will be here.
Chin up sister, I know how strong you are.

Ronni, so glad yo wore your hat. Love the photo of you with your hat on.
One day at a time.

Rocky road ahead and all, right now I think we all agree the only obligation you have to this blog and its readers is to take care of Ronni. If you write, write what is in your heart to write, whatever that is. We will just be so glad to hear from you that we will gobble it up. You won't bore us with your journey. Coming from you we will know it is real.💞💞💞

Sorry, couldn't resist an emoji to send hugs from us all.

Write what you can and what you want.

I agree I have never met you but hold you dear after all these years. Do not underestimate how much help you will need 24/7 during your recovery. Over plan and have all the recovery pieces of equipment you need in the house before you go in. Internet is wonderful for guidance. Hugs to you

I agree with Norma - and of course, with all others who send their love and good wishes.

I am a firm believer in the mind-body connection.

"All will be well" is the mantra I'll repeat with you in mind.

I do think it would be a good idea to suggest to your doctors and hospital caregivers that they take the time to read your blog...it might give them some valuable insight on being on the "other side" of treatment.

~All will be well.

I can't add to all the wonderful thoughts the rest of your legion of fans have wished you; only echo them. Please post when and if you can, saying whatever is on your mind and in your heart.

Long-distance hugs.

Ronnie, this is definitely reason to hope! No one knows the future and a lot of precious time can be wasted "what-ifing." I just started a class that is reading and discussing "The Path: A New Way to Think About Everything" by Professor Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh. Puett is a professor of Chinese history at Harvard and his course in Chinese philosophy is one of the most popular at Harvard. The idea is to apply the concepts today to have a mind set that supports a good life. While I have often been fascinated by some of the Chinese philosophy, I could never sit still long enough to be a real practioner! However, as I age I find myself more willing to let go of worrying about what will be and regretting what I did in the past and just being awake to what is happening in front of me. This also goes along with my growing acceptance that there is no heaven in the sky waiting for me, but that life is really what is happening right now...like I am typing to you...this is my life. And I don't want to miss a minute of it. It is bringing me peace and a sense of fullness. Speaking of the future for a minute, you can be certain that my mind and heart will be holding you on June 20. Patricia

Sending you healing thoughts and amazed by you as always. You are a teacher of life. I love that you dressed up. I will always do so from now on.

Love surrounds you - that's for certain.
Judy

Ronni -

We got it:
1> Eat, eat, and eat even more. Go exercise, exercise, and exercise - then go buy a double dip ice cream cone.
2> Have many laughs with our friend with John Oliver.

Thank you for keeping us all posted.

Y and R

As others have noted, coping with illness and disease is as much a part of "what growing old is really like" as anything else. I love your spirit and determination, especially your dressing up to see the doctor. You remind me of another spirited woman, of whom it was said, "Nevertheless, she persisted." I have a mental picture of you lying in a hospital bed -- still wearing your hat!

Thinking of you every day.

Susan R

Hi Ronni - I was saddened to hear of your recent diagnosis but then heartened to hear that you would keep us all informed of the path you are now on. It will be difficult, of course, but you sound like someone who has the right "take" on life and also seem to have great medical people on your side.
Having been hospitalized several times in my life, I feel one of the big bonuses of your blog during this time, is to point out that being at home, doing mundane chores, is such a good thing. We take for granted that all the little every-day things don't matter - and even make us whine that we have to do them at all - but it's so important to be in charge of something at a time like this to keep us sane during an otherwise tumultuous time.
Wish you so well with your surgery and recovery and really look forward to your honest view of all this - good and bad. Keep on writing and keep on with your great outlook.

I had the Whipple surgery done in January of this year. It WAS difficult but I had excellent care. Not much pain but mostly discomfort. There was a complication when I came home and I had to go back to the hospital for a few days. It DID take a while to recover but I seem to be pretty normal this month ( June) with good energy and attitude. I would do it again in hindsight given the alternative!

Good luck to you!

Actually, dear Ronni, you and what you are facing is a pretty recurrent thought passing through my mind these days though not as dominant a one as it is in yours, of course - despite the many distractions the news is offering us.
I am grateful for whatever you can share that allows us to feel closer (and also grateful to dkzody for the question that I, too, wanted to ask and to your being willing to respond to it.
Also VERY grateful for the better than average stats you have been given and for the world-class surgeon and his staff who will be taking care of you.
Daily good wishes, juju and lit candles,
with much love and gratitude.

Your news squeezed some good news tears out of me. Write what you wish of course but let us keep supporting you with this. Truly I hope you'll take your recovery home. So much more comfortable, all your favorite things nearby and less likely to pick up an infection post-op. You in my thoughts and prayers daily.

Just let myself read the comments, which was, as usual, a treat because of their quality and had to return to second wholeheartedly Denny's and Norma's posts. Thank you all!

AND, just have to say, ovarian cancer was supposed to kill me some 45 or so years ago, and I know a woman who, about 20 years ago was told that her chances were nil........so that raises your numbers a lot, maybe enough to take to Las Vegas. Not well expressed, but you get my drift.
That hat, getting dressed up, the way you're taking this on, you've got the spirit, that's for sure! Though I know there will be times when you won't believe it, it's human.
I so appreciate your honest sharing, and agree with others, that what you're going through is "what growing old is really like."

Dear Ronni

I was very sad when I read your bad and brave news
No need to pretend otherwise
You are a light in my e-mail: I go straight to it!
I wish you the best possible outcome
You've been a friend to so many people, myself included
Thank you
Conceição

I heard that Ruth Bader Ginsburg survived pancreatic cancer, and she's still going strong. a good example for you! All best wishes!

Dear Ronni, I think of myself as leaving a comment for a survivor. Your attitude toward all this is so healthy and soon I hope your body will be too. Peace.

Excellent news about better odds! Will be sending positive, healing thoughts and energy your way, Ronni! and much love.

Hello again, Ronni. Ditto all the comments above. I did what I always do in a situation like this--look up pancreatic cancer online, read about Ginsberg--delighted to learn you have a contained tumor as she did. As for your posts--I think most of us are most interested in your ongoing experience with this cancer--from diagnosis to treatment, to spirit, etc. Nothing else seems very important at the moment! I haven't seen any advice here that isn't useful. Carry on, Woman. We need you!

Golly, sounds very hopeful! As others have said, sharing this experience with us IS a completely reasonable part of this blog. Continuing to thank you...

I have a good friend who had the exact pancreatic condition that you describe, and the same surgical procedure you're facing. This was at least four years ago and he is still very much alive and well. His mother died of pancreatic cancer, so he figured he was doomed.

The surgery is a big deal, as is the recovery, but he survived and thrived, and you can too!

Wishing all good things for you, Ronni.

As usual, I'm coming late to the gathering so all I can do is add my "spot on" to many of the wise and heartfelt comments from the TGB world, which BTW appears to contain many more "larks" (morning people) than "owls" (night people like me).

I'm glad to hear the positive news and SO hope, Ronni, that you're one of that 25-30%. Like you, I've always tried to avoid what I call the "medical industrial complex", but fortunately it's there when we really need it. It sounds like you have a great surgical team. I would also hope that you can do recovery at home, with the help you need, and I'm sure Ollie the Cat would agree.

Please write what you can when you can during this most unwelcome, unpleasant and unexpected journey. You have many, many followers in your corner.

Ronni, I'm so happy to hear you've been given good reason to hope for a cure. We are all rooting for you and I echo other commenters who have said: write what you want! Anything about which you choose to put pen to paper (or however you do the digital version of that) will be a joy to read because of your intelligence, wit, curiosity and verve!

And now a perhaps unneeded bit of advice/warning as you think about how to plan for your recovery: Does Ollie sleep with you? I have two cats and banning them from the bedroom means they would howl all night long, meaning no sleep for me. I've had two abdominal surgeries, the most recent last summer, and both times I employed a very low-tech solution to make sure my cats didn't jump on my stomach/incision site in the night. I got a very large box, discarded all top flaps, cut out two body size arcs on opposing sides at the top edges of the box and placed the box (bottom side up) directly over the center of my body. It was like having a protective shell over me in the night. Okay, perhaps this proves I am a crazy cat lady, and perhaps you or another commenter will have a better solution (others may think, just lock the darn cat out), but it was something I hadn't thought to think about in advance of coming home after that first surgery. And it worked!

And if all this does is give you a laugh picturing it, that's okay, too!

You wrote, "...even though my current personal circumstance is uppermost in my mind every day, it's probably not in yours..."

True. And yet, while not as uppermost as in your mind, your circumstance IS in my mind every day. Sending much love to one of the sanest, smartest, sassiest activist-leaders in the world.

God bless, Ronnie. I will keep praying. Eat lots of nutritious stuff like ice cream! Love the blog.

And wine...drink wine!! So glad you have a fighting chance, and feel sure you are up for it.
All the best.

While exercising and eating right will prepare your body...I'd add do much to feed your inner as well as your outer.

Turn, turn, turn, to every thing there is a season. Ronni, right now your journey is our journey, and what we really wish to know is how you are. Please take us along, as much as your spirit and strength permit. Needing a loving and supportive community is such a big part of 'what it's really like to get old'.
Love and hugs.

Ronni, dressing up for the doctor's appointment was a good move.

We don't need to give anyone any additional reasons to dismiss or talk down to us, as they do with elders.

I dress up a little, too, when I have to have an encounter with authority or expertise that's very important to me. I don't know if anyone even notices, but it doesn't matter. It makes me feel more "there."

Patty-in-New-York...
I don't think you're a crazy cat lady at all. And although Ollie is old and fat now and hasn't jumped on my body in years, I love that idea - a just-in-case because cats are so unpredictable.

Thanks for that.

Continue to wish you the best outcome possible and fast healing. I agree with the person who wrote about the Simonton method of visualizing the cancer cells become smaller and smaller until they are gone.
Take your vitamins and, if possible, talk to a really good (preferably Chinese) acupuncturist who is skilled in the herbals that assist in healing. And, you might get some sessions with him/her to speed up healing.
And please keep writing when you feel up to it. We love reading your blog.

Your story IS part of aging. I love how you "tell it like it is". Please continue writing about whatever YOU want to. Lifting my beer to a successful, relatively smooth surgery and recovery!

Ronni--This IS what growing old is really about! You are writing the columns of a lifetime--please keep doing what you are doing. The odds are most of us will face something similar: "Advancing age is a high risk factor for cancer, with persons over 65 accounting for 60% of newly diagnosed malignancies and 70% of all cancer deaths (7,8). ... Similarly, the age adjusted cancer mortality rate for those over 65 is 1068/100,000 compared to 67/100,000 for those under 65 (7,8)." From Cancer in the Elderly, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1500929/

We need you to guide us through this, Ronni. And so far, you are guiding us with wisdom and grace (with a good dose of black humor). Don't stop!

Ronni, I have thought of you everyday since learning of your situation. I agree with several others who say this is also what aging is about. Write when you feel like it. You are #1 priority. I am sending love and healing thoughts to you. Will have special prayers for you on the 20th! Blessings!

I am a recent reader of your blog having been "introduced" by a very good friend.
There isn't much to add to all the good wishes, advice, introspection, etc that have already been posted.
I just wanted you to know that you are in my thoughts and I wish you a complete and speedy recovery.
Life is and always has been about challenges and changes, especially as we all get older.
Take care and I look forward to hearing from you post-surgery.
Maybe Trump will have resigned by the time you return to writing. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Pancreatic cancer is part of growing old. A hell of a challenge.
If they are going to keep you in the hospital for ten days, you might pick a few replacement bloggers or take your laptop with you. :) Another challenge.

Hope springs eternal!
(I know i've lifted that from somewhere, but it seemed all too appropriate today)

I just wanted to comment on your last statement:
"we can get back to the real goal of this blog – what growing old is really like – for awhile."

But Ronnie, isn't your current life situation exactly what (one part) of growing old is like? It may not be the better part of it, but it's out there, waiting for many of us to slam into it.
Using your forum to discuss it as bravely as you are, can only help give us perspective and inform us.
Wishing you lots of hope and healing thoughts in the days ahead!

I was so shocked to hear the news, Ronnie. I was out of town last week. I requested prayers for healing for you from Silent Unity. I prayed for you this morning. The healing process has started. You're in good hands. I hope you will continue to post. Blessings!

Thank you, Ronni, for telling us the latest news. Good to know you are in extra-qualified hands, and that your 'odds' have gone up.

I hope it works out to recuperate at home. Your familiar surroundings, and Ollie, are good medicine too, and undoubtedly your local friends will gather around. Besides, there are paid helpers who can come in for a few hours - and that's a lot better than rehab places where your time and your bed are not your own.

As with the others, I'm also thinking of you frequently during these weeks.

I was not one for statistics when it came to my own journey with breast cancer 25 yrs ago....science and medicine can dabble in that...I said to myself back then, I am me, not a statistic and there is no reason why I can't be the one who beats the odds...power of positivity on my part...power on Ronnie, there is only one of you too.

Ronni, this news sucks, of course. I hope you always take Crabby Old Lady with you to all your appointments, consultations, etc. She will be a great help.

I wish you nothing but good news.

After spending 3 months in the hospital after a problem surgery, I think the advice about practicing the mind-body connection is a great one. I had some tapes that took me out of the pity pool and motivated me to be in the moment even when the moments were barely bearable. The next most important thing is to get an advocate. There will be times you need someone with a clear head and an outsiders viewpoint that has knowledge of your wishes and can back you up if you need to ask difficult questions or deal with unintelligible answers to those very questions. Even remembering things. I'm sure this will be an adventure and I thank you for sharing it so far.

Ronni, you are in good hands.

Thank you for keeping us in the loop.

That was a great idea PINY gave you about the cardboard box stomach protector.

Sending you big hugs and army boot Angels.

Fran is a cancer survivor. She lives in the ILR where I bus tables and learn facts about ageing no book can top.

Fran is 99 years old. She cuts her own hair. It looks good.

Fran has two long legged cats. I know this, because I went up to her apartment on the second floor to see If she was coming down for lunch.

I knocked on her door, Fran opened it.

Two big cats with extra long legs stared at me like a couple secret service agents.

Fran didn't come to lunch that day because she didn't like what was on the menu.

But she invited me into her apartment and told me about her twenty years ago successful cancer treatment.

This is the part that got me thinking.

Fran said she used self talk during her treatment.

"I ordered that thing to get the hell out of my body. I grabbed it, ripped it up and threw it out the door."

Eye of the tiger, Ronni.

Eye of the tiger.

My dear husband will be starting radiation and chemo soon so I've been very interested in your experiences and those of the other readers -- we've never been faced with the kind of decisions we have to make now and it is daunting to us.

Please write whatever you wish -- but if you have any tips that you think might help some of us navigate the experience, please mention them, or something that doesn't work, too.

My husband has always had thick, wavy hair and I think he's dreading losing it -- don't know if it grows back when the treatments are over. I knew a girl in high school who had chemo and radiation. She had thin blonde hair prior to the treatments, but when her hair
grew back it was thick and a dark brown. Maybe this will happen to you. Wouldn't that be wonderful!

Great affection, Teresa

You are such a classy lady & my new role model!
Susan D-L

Your mental attitude is half the battle. I volunteer in an Ocology Clinic and one of my goals to chemo patients is to emphasize the importance of a positive outlook. Best wishes for your positive outcome.

Ronni, your personal circumstance has been uppermost in my mind, from far away in Australia. You've heard from me rarely but I've received your words, your humour, your practicality, your humanity, your encouragement, with deep appreciation. You give much to many, all of whom are now firmly on and by your side.

I think about you daily, Ronnie. So glad you're getting good advice. Enjoy these next two weeks and know that there are people all over the globe cheering you on.

I just want to echo previous comments on mind-body connection and meditation. My regular yoga practise includes meditation which I find invaluable. Start now as part of getting ready for surgery. So glad I found you again and am sure if anyone can get through what is ahead......you can.

How did I miss this post today? But I did and I am so relieved that I checked my e-mail before retiring. I have been wondering for several days how you are and if you were in the hospital undergoing the surgery. I am so relieved to hear that the tumor is contained and that the odds are good of having only part of your pancreas removed and not a more radical surgery . Even if you do have to go home without your gall bladder or part of your stomach you won't miss them.

I, too, looked up the surgery involved on the Mayo Clinic site when I first heard about your diagnosis. It sounded dreadful, but now I know you will survive this. If I know one thing about you it's that you never give up and you are brave even if you may doubt that at times.

I am very sure that your wonderful medical team and your own spirit will get you through this with flying colors. Of course it isn't going to be easy and there will be days when you are 'down' but just take it an hour at a time when they hit and remember tomorrow will be better.

Just like all of the great people who love you, I admire and love you too. You have a large and loving support system even though we are not visible. We are with you on this journey. That's very obvious.

I am a first time commenter even though I have benefited enormously from your wonderful blog over the years. I agree with all the heartfelt wishes and suggestions from your on-line community. However, I would like to address a practical issue that has not been covered. As a Canadian (who has lived in the U.S. for some years) I have never been able to fully understand how American medical costs are dealt with. American insurance plans will forever be somewhat mystifying for me. So here is a direct query: You will be needing paid helpers of various kinds through a long recuperation. Do you have enough financial resources to cover the care you must not stint on. Can we, your faithful readers, help out by sending donations?

I am so happy for you and Ollie that you may be able to recover at home. Best wishes always my friend.

Best of luck with this. A friend's mother recently went through it. Not realizing, I had thought pancreatic cancer was always It and was very worried. But lo and behold, the surgery worked, and it's been over a year now...and she is out and about.

Odds can be beaten. I had a coconut-sized vascular tumour in my liver when I was in my early 30s. It was so large I was having trouble breathing, I could no longer eat, and my weight had dropped to 68 pounds. I was told that my chance of surviving the necessary surgery was less than 10%, but like you, I really had no choice. Ten percent is 100% better than nothing. The biggest danger was bleeding to death because the liver is like a sponge and this was before cauterizing scalpels were available. So there was no way to stop the bleeding. I have a very rare blood type and they were able to collect only 27 units of matching blood. My surgeon said, "We'll do all we can, but if we can't complete the surgery before we run out of blood there's nothing we can do." Everyone was telling me to fight for my life, but I felt it was better to be positive. I thought about the Bible story told to me as a child, about God holding back the Red Sea so the Hebrew children could walk through on dry land. I kept that as a positive thought, If God could hold back the Red Sea, He could keep me from bleeding to death. During surgery, the blood ran out at hour seven. But though they were still removing tumour, I quit bleeding, and didn't bleed any more - at all - for the four more hours it took to remove the tumour and close. The surgeons didn't know what to make of it. But here I am, 42 years later, having survived to raise my sons, who were very small at the time, and grateful to be alive! I don't believe positivity is a cure-all, but it helps. :) Hope and love from Canada!

Ronni, I was glad to read that your surgeon and his team are world class. I've always found that trusting the people who take care of you is capital. I went through two breast cancers, one on each breast. Hopefully, as I don't have a third breast, it'll stop there :-)
The first time, I hated my surgeon. And the oncologist who headed the radiation therapy.
I was not in good shape, overweight, and felt depressed.
The second time over, I took time to carefully choose my surgeon, had all sorts of questions and it went much much better.
Do exercise! Your body is about to go through a physically difficult time and you want to be in good shape. Which obviously is the case at the moment.
By sharing this here, you are helping others, and you are helping yourself.
And you ARE a strong woman and you WILL beat this.
Keep us all posted. Please. I will be thinking of you.

Dear Ronni -- you've been doing the getting fit and eating well for about five years. So you'll be ready for surgery. I know few people whose general readiness for whatever comes next I more admire. Be well.

Fingers crossed for you Ronni. May the odds be in your favor. Look at all the love that you'll take with you into that operating room!

Don't be overly concerned with preparing for surgery. You'll do what you can and the rest lies with your excellent doctor and the heavens above. You've taken care of yourself for years and that will serve you in good stead.

I worry when people feel 'if I only do this, then...." This is one of those times when there's only so much that lies in your hands. So, be good to yourself in the interim. Practice letting go. But never, ever, ever give up! Judy

Hey Ronni
I don't know exactly when or how we connected. It was obviously online and through TGB but I don't recall how I got there in the first place. I did pinch hit for you once but that was a while before you and TGB got famous. And now we're getting down to the nitty gritty. My younger brother had a similar condition but he didn't pull through- mostly because he lost the will to live but you're a survivor and like we said in the good old Obama days "YES WE CAN!" And yes you will.
Write (when the spirit moves you) about what you really care about. All the rest is but commentary.

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