ELDER MUSIC: Believe It Or Not
Blogging and Privacy

Contest Winners and Cancer Update


EBook_SocialSilverSurfers2016-web150On Friday, I wrote about a new eBook reporting on a survey about how elders use the internet. One of the authors, Erin Read who is a friend of mine, offered to give away three copies to TGB readers.

Now, with the aid of a random number generator, we have the online names of the three winners:

Gloria MacKay
Cynthia Friedlob

Congratulations all. I have forwarded your email addresses to Erin who will contact you to arrange delivery of the eBooks.

Erin tells me that part of her company's mission is to support those who work to enhance the quality of elders' lives so she will also send a free copy of the eBook to Anita Franzione who teaches a public health and aging class and to Judith Levkoe of Seniors Across Canada both of whom entered the giveaway.

Those email addresses have also been sent to Erin who will be in contact with you soon.

That was fun and it generated a lot of conversation too. I'll see if I can find another good book to do this with soon.

My friend Jan Adams, who blogs at Where is the Way Forward, has been walking the Camino de Santiago while visiting Spain this summer. She took the time to email this photo of a purple awareness ribbon at the Ministry of Health building in Madrid.

Purple ribbonMadridJan680

”I have been unable to confirm that this display of the purple ribbon on the Ministry of Health was really about pancreatic cancer,” she writes, “but as soon as I saw it, I wanted to capture it for you.”

And I'm thrilled to have it even if we don't know if it is meant to be for pancreatic cancer. That's because there seem to be more diseases than colors to go around and you can see the long list of them that use a purple awareness ribbon here.

Jan's photo gives me an excuse to update you, dear readers, who have emailed or left comments asking how I'm doing. I haven't written much about my cancer treatment lately because there is so little to say – which is, of course, good news.

I began chemotherapy infusions on Wednesday 13 September, repeated on each of the two subsequent Wednesdays. Also on those days and every other day of the week, I take two tablets in the morning and again in the evening of an oral chemo drug. This is my week off from infusion treatment, then I start another round of once a week for three weeks while continuing the daily oral chemo.

Did I mention how gruesome a few of the potential side effects can be? How about the dangers of infection due to a drop in the number of my red and white blood cells and platelets from the chemo? And other possible signs and symptoms that can even require an emergency room visit?

Many of you who have commented here about your cancer treatments are way ahead of me in knowing all about this stuff. Me? I'm still new at it, still learning.

But as I enter the third calendar week today of my six-month chemo treatment, I am – knock wood, cross fingers, light candles, etc. - side effect free. Whoo-eee! In fact, I have been feeling so good in general that sometimes I wonder how that can coexist with such a virulent cancer.

The hard part is how busy the chemo team keeps me even when I'm at home. I have pills timed 30 minutes before meals, with meals, 30 minutes after meals, some in the morning, some in the evening and one to take before every meal or snack I eat for the rest of my life along with two or three others I will need daily for as long as I live.

Here is a photo of what is, apparently, a permanent new feature of my kitchen:


Also, there is lotion for my hands and feet throughout the day, mouth rinses, exercises to keep up my strength and those six meals a day. I haven't been able to do six, but I can usually manage four and sometimes five.

Don't even ask about the food restrictions. I'm experimenting carefully and have been able to add a few “new” foods but mostly, for the time being, meals are boring and repetitive.

But guess what? I'll take it. I'll take it all (with some whining) because compared to what others in my condition go through, I'm getting off easy.

Given how dangerous and aggressive this cancer is, I know how lucky I am, and my gratitude grows by the day. Here is partial a list of why:

Only ten percent of people diagnosed pancreatic cancer are eligible for the Whipple surgery which is pretty much the only thing that can help. I am one of those few.

Although it seemed to take forever, I healed relatively easily from the surgery and have been back to full physicial capacity for well more than a month.

My chemo treatment takes only an hour once a week. Some at the clinic sit there with an infusion going for eight or ten hours and/or do it several times a week.

So far side effects from the chemicals have passed me by.

I am old enough for Medicare which pays for all but a small amount of this expensive treatment.

I happen to live where there is a world-class cancer institute with renowned physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals highly experienced in my kind of cancer.

And I have you, dear readers of this blog, who send greetings of good cheer and hugs and light candles and wish me well every day.

What makes me even more grateful in that regard is I'm not even all that likeable. Among other failings, I am short-tempered, cynical, cantankerous, impatient, judgmental and more.

Thank you all so very much for being on this journey with me.


😘 😃 (*loved* that penultimate paragraph!)

Happy Monday, Ronni. I can only say that after reading TGB for quite a few years now, one of the best parts is that you let us in on your "failings" which we all share. It's been comfortable, not to mention fun, to read all you've posted on TGB and now to get through this current cancer experience--we're all in it together!

Thanks for the chemo update. Good to hear so far so good. As for the failings, ha! All side effects of being engaged in life that is throwing curve balls. Funny, but I'd wager your readership is growing all the while.

Good, good, good news, Ronni.

And I hope others in this wide circle reading and supporting you but experiencing their own health crises are feeling the communal support going on here.

Your sharing is much appreciated.

It is what you call your "failings" that makes you strong and ready for whatever comes at you.

It occurred to me when I read that paragraph of your "failings", you and I could be twins--and we would have our bouts, but the honesty with which you express yourself and with which I try to do the same would be a great foundation for interesting friendship. Wouldn't I be lucky to have such a friend as you!

Good to know that you are doing fine or rather as fine as can be expected. Bon courage as we say in French.

You seem to be doing all that you can, and you are fortunate that it's working so well for you. But you've also been somewhat prepared for this, by your diet and exercise, staying active, disciplined, and engaged with the world. I recently came across an article from a few years ago making the case that people who read a lot are healthier, so there's more good news.

No one should have to make this journey alone, though I'm sure that many do. It's a privilege to be accompanying you in some small way, vicariously sharing your experience, and collecting insight about this disease and how it might be managed. I hope you enjoy your chemo-free week, and are able to do some fun things not related to your illness.

Thanks for sharing the news Ronni. I'm amazed and admiring of your organizational skills and determination. You're a force of nature. It's wonderful that your long ago move from one Portland (Maine) to this Portland has put you in the right place for medical care. The same wonderful place both my sisters went for their cancers. Many hugs to you.

Thank you for the update on your treatment. I am so glad you are doing so well.

Give my love to Crabby!

So happy this vs are going g well.love the blog.

S C Jones make the triplets - Ronni, you and me for we all share the same "failings". If you asked my daughter what kind of person I am, she would reply with exactly the same description of me.

And you may be on to something when you state that those "failings" are what may be keeping Ronni strong. At the age of 92 it seems to have worked for me. I have no other reason for my longevity. No one in my family has lived this long.

Keep on getting better, Ronni. I think the worst is behind you and the best is yet to come.

Does your chemo make your food taste funny? Mine made everything taste weird and some things really awful. The resulting weight loss, however, was quite welcome. Too bad I put it all back on. Glad to hear you're doing so well with it.

Sure makes you appreciate Medicare, doesn't it? Seeing the original charges for all the treatments, and then seeing how relatively little my part of it was, was a real eye-opener.

Susan R...
There is no difference in how things taste. What has happened, however, is that I've lost my taste for sweet things. Not that I don't eat them (they're high calorie and I need a lot of that to keep my weight up), and they don't taste weird. I just don't much care. For most of my life I had to fight my sweet tooth.

There are a lot of food restrictions that my body can't digest well yet - mostly the healthy stuff but the nutritionist says that's okay. Right now she cares about plenty of fat and calories so I don't lose weight during the months of chemo treatment.

Did you know that cancer uses up a lot more calories faster than a body without cancer? I didn't know that before this happened to me.

Being 'short-tempered, cynical, cantankerous, impatient, judgmental and more', is what makes you so lovable.

So glad to hear your honest and good-news report.

Oh, you mean you're HUMAN, Ronni?

So glad you are so far free of any awful side effects,
and hope it lasts for your entire treatment period.

Healing abounds.

Actually your "faults" are somewhat endearing. You have the courage to be honest with yourself about who you are and aren't apologetic for it. Besides, you write a great blog!

Thanks as always for sharing. Like many others I have never met you face to face yet feel this uncanny and wonderful kinship. I found you when I began googling "aging gracefully" on that fated day I started to feel and look like my mother! I'm so thankful for that day!! What a bittersweet day that was! LOL

Keep on keeping on...we are all here with you! <3

Dear Ronni,
Thanks for the update. May the good news follow you through to the end!
I am sending you a hug across the airwaves.

I am sending a virtual hug across cyberspace. Got it?

You're 'doing it', Kid!! And I'm so pleased. And relieved. As for your 'penultimate paragraph', - - your 'failings' are the very definition of 'crabby'! LOL (Lots O' Love)

You're an eye-opener for me. My husband has cancer and has gone through much of what you've gone through. I think I probably have cancer, too, but have not been diagnosed -- and don't want to be. Let it be. I don't want to go through what my husband has gone through. Just let me live or die, I don't care. I want to be here for my husband, he's been a life-line for me. But, other than that, I'd just as soon die.

I know that sounds bad, but I don't think of it like that. I've lived my life, have tried to make a difference for all the good people, but I'm tired now and would like to just go quietly into the night. My children are good people and have children of their own and have worked hard, just as I did. My two first husbands were terrible people and thankfully haven't had other children. My son and my daughter are good members of society and work hard and love their children. They are good members of society. I feel that I taught them all I knew about life and their duty to society. That was what I was meant to do. And now I'm superfluous, except to my husband. I will be here as long as he needs me. And then I will go away...

Great to hear you are tolerating this exhausting routine so well. Intellectually, it's easy to understand that any of us can arrive where you are (and worse) at any time. Appreciate your taking us along on your aging journey ... Be well!

Ronni, I share your "failings" for sure--among many others! For a variety of reasons I might not have chosen to undergo chemo, but I'm SO glad you did and that yours is going well. SIX meals a day? Now that would be a real challenge for me since I'm used to eating once a day, and I'm terrible in the kitchen. Fortunately, my spouse is a much better at it and can fend (nicely!) for himself. I eat because I have to, usually not because I want to. I'd probably rely on prepackaged meals for diet-restricted folks, assuming there are such things.

Class of '65, I hear you. Ours may not be a popular view, but IMO it's a valid one among all the positive hype about old age. After a fairly active and productive life, at 80+ I don't find much to like about back pain and I'm no longer very useful to anyone except my husband (88) and our 3 senior cats. If they weren't around, an exit strategy would be on my radar screen--and, no, I'm NOT clinically depressed!

Ditto all the above. Carry on, Woman! I think what would get me in the end is scheduling all those pills. Even with death chasing after me with a machete. You, on the other hand, are exceptionally capable. And I am so glad!

Oops, I hit send without proofing. Allow me to amend that last sentence to "an eventual exit strategy MIGHT be on my radar screen"--it isn't at the moment!

Your charming disposition, as you describe it, likely does contribute significantly to the quality of your experience during this episode in your life. Continuing to send positive thoughts your way.


Another Ebook suggestion: Unabashed Aging by Miss Manners {Judith Martin}. Haven't read it myself because I don't do Ebooks but it's likely funny and incisive like yourself.

And I strongly agree with Margot Johnson!

Thank you so much for continuing to teach so many of us. It's appreciated.

I am so glad things have gone so well for you thus far, and that gratitude is such a wise approach. May all continue to be well with you, and you being you, it will.

Grand to read your progress report to-date, especially since it is such a positive one.

Glad you share the same qualities as the rest of us mortals have. I was about to say that, sure, I have all those - except judgemental - as well, until I remembered the guy in the WH, and see that I cannot escape that label either.

Anyhow, that sense of humor of yours will carry you thru this, so hang in there!

You have so many attributes that will help you on your way, but the most important is your positive attitude. Always keep that, which helps all of us too. We are walking with you.

Thank you Roni. Blessings for your radiant health. You rock big time!
Love back at ya.
Ellen Greenlaw

I had to laugh at your last statement because you have perfectly described me! So far I haven't had to deal with anything like you have, but I'm sure it will happen one day. I better get busy and start a blog so I get the support you have, because I'm sure my friends will have run out of patience with me by then. Keep on trucking, Ronni!

More and more and more good cheer, hugs, and candles to light your way because, failings or not (and you know you're not alone there), you have lit the way for many of us. Thanks for the update.

Thank you for posting this update. Your description of your failings sound like my own to the proverbiaL "t" luckily for society I live alone, and only emerge when it is safe. For them. Not for me.

It is always interesting to read about your journey and to cheer you on from my Idaho ranch. Best wishes Ronni.

Dear Ronni - I did laugh when I read your description of yourself - like looking in a mirror! that's why so many people relate to you - they can identify with you - another cause for gratitude - so many likeable people!

Thanks for the Chemo update. Great news that everything is going well and your feeling good.

I am so pleased for you. Hurrah and bravo!

No where in the booklet explaining all about the chemo I was to receive for breast cancer years ago did it say, "...and you might not experience ANY of these debilitating and horrible side effects of treatment." So, I was surprised when I continued to feel pretty good throughout the experience. I was later told the possibility of feeling good was never put in the brochures because then people who had problems would feel further disappointed. I get that ... and I'm praying for your comfort throughout.

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