Happy 94 Years, Darlene Costner

An Unexpected Anniversary

This is a big-deal, important day for me. A time to celebrate: It is two years ago today that I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Let me explain how amazing that is. Only about 10 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are even eligible for the Whipple procedure, an extensive surgery that is the only treatment for this cancer. Of the patients who undergo the Whipple many, like me, follow up with chemotherapy and/or radiation.

According to several medical websites, the five-year survival rate after a Whipple procedure is about 20 to 25 percent. My surgery took place two years ago minus three weeks from today.

The downside is that for the past five or six weeks, I have had a terrible breathing problem. Sometimes I can't get to the mailbox or even from the back bedroom to the kitchen without needing to stop a couple of times to catch my breath.

I saw the oncologist earlier this week. It has been difficult for them to book a pulmonologist in a reasonable length of time (NOT September) so they are doubling down to find an earlier appointment for me to deal with this breathing difficulty.

Meanwhile, I'm on an inhaler which helps a little but I still can't walk more than a few feet without need to stop to catch my breath. Really irritating.

The oncologist has halted my chemotherapy for two months (four infusions) because it is affecting other organs including my heart. The pulmonologist will address these breathing issues.

So I'm on hold until a pulmonologist is found to see me soon but the oncologist, referring to my life-span, appears to think I'm not going anywhere anytime soon either.

One difficulty with cancer and chemo is that both of them eat up calories faster than a healthy body but it is important not to lose weight. This is not easy since the disease and chemo also steal the patient's appetite. I have a new pill now which improves my appetite – no more forcing food when I feel full.

But here's the best news. The particular kind of chemotherapy I've been taking precludes eating or drinking cold foods and drink because the chemo, in those instances, closes up the esophagus. But now, the next couple of months without chemo means I can – wait for it - EAT ICE CREAM AGAIN.

Ice cream's high calorie and high fat count will go a long way toward helping keep up my weight and even better, it's one of my two favorite foods.

So hurray for me. And hurray for all of you who have been supportive in so many ways since this disease interrupted my otherwise long and healthy life two years ago.

Thank you all for being there for me through these two years. Maybe you'll share some ice cream with me.


Ronni, this sounds sort of like a bad news/good news story, but yay for being able to eat all the ice cream you want! May you keep on keeping on!

Today I will go to Baskin-Robbins and have a large vanilla milkshake in celebration of your anniversary!!

Good news!! I hope you eat ice cream every day for many years to come.

Pretty high price to pay for guilt-free ice cream binging, but since you're there, enjoy!
Keeping good thoughts for you!

Ronnie, I’m so glad you’re still with us and still able to share your experience. I started reading a few months ago and wanted to take a moment say so - I appreciate your honesty and insight (and you write well) and wish I’d found your blog before my mother passed. I shall raise a spoonful of ice cream tonight to mark your anniversary and to hope the visit with pulmonologist helps.

You've given me a great excuse to go enjoy a guilt-free milkshake (and maybe even a cheeseburger!) at my favorite roadside hot dog/ice cream place, stubbornly holding on despite the chains, traffic, and shopping strips now surrounding it. It was a rural crossroads when the place started out, 50+ years ago.



Sending love and appreciation for your attitude. I always learn from you. Enjoy the ice cream, my friend! 💛

Haagen Dazs. Chocolate chocolate chip. My fave. I'll eat some today in honor of you and this stellar anniversary.

With COPD, I am very sympathetic to the breathing problems. Used to “envy” people with great hair and slender bodies but now I look longingly at those with good teeth and good lungs.
Am going right out to get some gelato and will raise a spoon (or several) to you.
Thank you. Always.

What’s your favorite flavor? I’m thinking it’s not vanilla. Mine’s chocolate: always has been, always will be. Coffee ice cream has its place too. You? (From the land of Ben and Jerry)

My first thought was that oxygen therapy could help you and what little I read on the American Lung Assoc website, it sounds possible. I would think that your oncologist would be able to order that for you. ?? It just seems that you've been having breathing difficulties for a while now. Waiting to get help for what ails us sucks big-time! Meanwhile . . . I scream, you scream for ice cream!

Congratulations! Ice cream is delightful...and just slides down your throat.

Good news is always welcome.

Congratulations, Ronnie, what a happy feeling I have inside that you are celebrating your 2nd year after this frightening diagnosis, a testament to you and your 'village.'

I've learned many things from you through this journey, not the least, that when offered the option to help oneself during a time when it may be easier to relinquish, you've done everything you can to live well, take care of yourself. You have shown me a tremendous love for life, which has grown my appreciation for the momentary pleasures and beauty of my life, wherever I am.

So, we had a new "Salt and Straw" ice cream place open here...fancy schmancy flavors, I've been excited to try. I will enjoy every bit. XXXX

You Just gave everyone a good excuse to indulge in our favorite food - ice cream. So I will ask my shopper to pick up a carton of Rocky Road or Butter Pecan so I can celebrate your anniversary treat.

Congratulations on making idiots of the statisticians. Keep on fooling them. And I do hope you get that breathing problem taken care of soon. It's frightening to not be able to breathe. It's our strongest survival instinct I am sure.

Oh my gosh, what a wonderful anniversary to celebrate! Ice cream all around...

May a pulmonology appointment open up soon and treatment be quickly effective! While you are waiting, I hope you have help coming in to keep you supplied with your favorite flavors.

Here's to you, Ronni. I lift a pint of Bourbon Pecan Praline (my current addiction). Cheers!

So happy you can have ice cream again; I can't imagine life without it. I hope you get to the pulmonologist soon!

Ronni - congratulations on your achievement. And best wishes for having the breathing situation taken care of soon. I have an excuse now to gobble up my yummy Haagen-Dazs sitting in the freezer. Here's to you!!! Hugs. Regina M.

May I suggest gelato ;-) for variety.

So glad y0u made this 2 year anniversary and so sorry breathing is becoming a serious issue! I do hope they will be able to help you with that and to keep you going comfortably for much longer! Enjoy your ice cream! Hugs and love to you!

Yes Ronni, this is a big deal, big day for you. For all of us.

Does anyone know of licorce ice cream anywhere? Not that it's for me, of course.....

My dad's pancreatic cancer has given him permission to enjoy all foods again. He was managing hypertension and diabetes with a modified diet before his October diagnosis. Now, no more worries about what he eats... and he is delighting in mealtime again. Pass the salt and two desserts, please!

We will be together tonight as a family for the first time in nearly 20 years. My siblings have arrived from the other coast and we've set aside our differences for the time being. We will be celebrating Dad with lots of good food and raising a glass to you too, Ronni.

What continues to amaze and inspire me is your ability to find some ray of sunshine even when it is almost dark. In this case, ice cream. Some say a positive attitude and hope are critical to successful outcomes and prolonging life. Others think that is malarkey. You have made a strong case for the former. I hope it continues to carry you for a lot more time - with and ice cream and many other "treats" along the way!

WOO HOO!, Go for it Ronnie. I'm in gratitude for being " in the zone" today and your Good News helped to put me there so Thank You, too and I'll join you in an ice cream toast to Your Good Health. Love, Nancy

What a perfect opportunity to share one of my favorite quotes. For you, Ronni:

"My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate." -- Thornton Wilder

Along with the others here, I'm hoping that a spot opens up very quickly for you to slide into a visit with the pulmonologist and get some relief from that shortness of breath.

Ronnie, you are truly amazing....so Happy Anniversary!

Congratulations on this anniversary! Enjoy the ice cream, and I hope you find the solution to your breathing problems. Thinking of you today.

You bet, I'll provide a bowl and spoon for you the next time (this afternoon) I sit down and have some chocolate chip cookie dough Breyers ice cream! I'm celebrating too...had dentist appointment this morning and am feeling pretty good.

Happy Anniversary to you!! Have my ice cream too since I cannot due To lactose intolerance. I overindulged in my youth so have had my share hahaha. I’ll have some dark chocolate for you.


A spectacular gift to yourself, Ronni. Careful of ice cream headaches, tho

Yeah! And enjoy! :-)

May I join the party at this virtual ice-cream parlor? It sounds like a wonderful celebration... I see a “Ronni Day” banner and dozens of balloons 🎈decorating the corner table. I’ll get my chocolate malt and sit near by. Oh.. I like the singing and merriment.

We won’t stay long Ronni, we are all in the “napping is OK” club. Just long enough for a bit of ice cream and virtual hugs to wish you well.

High-5's on reaching your #2 anniversary. Even given our nation's primarily profit-driven and often dysfunctional healthcare system, you'd think that breathing issues would command more immediate attention than 3 months from now. Breathing is, after all, pretty basic.

Eat all the ice cream you want and hope the pulmonologist comes through MUCH sooner!

Happy anniversary --- in fact, more happy anniversaries to come! Happy ice-cream day[s] !! Enjoy, enjoy.

And I join everyone else in wishing for/counting on a very prompt appointment with a highly skilled, intelligent, and understanding and reassuring pulmonologist.

Meanwhile, try some Talenti ice cream. Especially sea salt/coffee. Or sea salt/caramel. yum..


You've got this, Ronni.
Keep it going!

Your Montreal Fan

Inspite of all that, you are truly SUPERWOMAN. So, so happy you are "in" my life!

It is Nestles Butterscotch Sunday for me. Will buy 1.5 litre this afternoon and try to eat no more than 3 tablespoons [oops, I better make that 5] at a time. With each tablespoon I will send good wishes to you across the border. One way or another by the time it is done you will hopefully be feeling better.
I hope you have the blue inhaler - it made it much easier for me to breath.
Should you go to the hospital and ask to see a pulmonologist? The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
take care Ronnie - so many people care about you.

As a relative newcomer to your blogs, I was not aware that it was "pancreatic" …

We lost the wife's sister at age 51 to this dreaded disease … she passed almost exactly one year to the day, from that which she had been diagnosed. I was able to spend a few days in CT at a retreat for folks diagnosed with "fatal" diseases with my sister-in-law -- I was the designated care-giver (or "upbeat" promoter). As you, she never flinched as we watched others in the throes of "melancholy". She kept a positive attitude to the very end … and that is how we all -- 3 children, sister, etc. -- will remember her. She fought the good battle and passed with a positive aura around her.

But, as long as you can take a breath, there's a chance you can beat this scourge of a disease. Keep on "keepin' on" -- you have a large bunch of folks prayin' with ya!! And we'll have ice cream at lunch today.

What a nice way to spend May 31st. Enjoying a "safe and harmless" journey eating ice cream.

Have a sweet and creamy time!

Ronni, what a wonderful anniversary! Enjoy that ice cream.

Yay for ice cream and a pill to make food taste better! Been there with the trying to put on weight with no food tasting better than cardboard. I appreciate your posts a lot.

If I had your address, I'd have Graeter's ice cream shipped to you!


Now if the pulmonologist gets scheduled, best news.

Keep going, COL. We need you.

Just finished a bowl of icecream in your honor.

Oh, ice cream, I will most assuredly raise a toast to you there! Now it'll take a day or two, as there's none in the house. But it will be all the sweeter for dedicating it to you!

Haven't been with you as long as most, and wish I had found you and your trusty band of commenters/cheerleaders sooner. TGB offers so much to those of us who love what you write. Cheers!!

Ronni - -

Ronni - - sorry for the previous 'oops'. To speed up the process of getting the pulmanologist to see you, you might try a bribe. Send a couple of gallons of ice cream with a note luring him/her to cut you a little slack. And an ice cream sundae upon 'arrival'!!

The other day I had a deep craving for ice cream. Couldn't get to the freezer fast enough - finally when I got to take the container out of the freezer and took the cover off I was unable to scoop the ice cream out of the ... container! What to do? No one there to help me and the spoon just didn't do it!!

Problem solved: I put the whole container in the freezer for a few seconds! Success!!!
Just in case you need to get at the ice cream in a hurry - try my tip.

Happy ice cream days!


Yay for you! I recommend Bruster's Ice Cream. I love their Happy Birthday flavor.

THREE CHEERS for the Anniversary!

And HURRAY for Cherry Garcia!!

Have a ball!

Hi, Ronni -- Long time reader, first time poster here. When I suddenly started having breathing problems like you describe, it turned out to be pulmonary emoblisms. Your current docs should be able to see it on a CAT scan. It's dangerous, so please ask them about this sooner rather than later.

Enjoy as much Ice cream you can eat!

Great anniversary celebration ... and with ice cream, too .... i’ll have pralines and créeme. Like the language you’re using for yourself — think it positively facilitates process. Sure wish Drs and specialists could be seen in timely manner as seems they should be, so hope Pulmonologist appt is expedited. Hang in there.

Having not posted in a long time, I want to let you know that I am still following your journey with compassion and hope.

Tonight I'll join your Ice Cream Toasters as I snarf a big bowl of chocolate ice cream with a chocolate chip dunker. I got hooked on chocolate ice cream during a recent 2 week stay in a SNF following a rough hospitalization. I'm glad to share your celebration of better health and brighter prospects. Cheers!


Yay for your anniversary! And yay for ice cream!!

I’m cheering for you, always.

Because of you, a small-ish container of this oft-forbidden food was purchased today, because, well, I *had* to purchase another something there.

By chance there was an unusual combination in a Persian grocery store I frequent - saffron and pistachio. Well, of course my arm was well inside the freezer compartment with a grip on it that wasn't going to loosen easily.

It surpassed my expectations and nearly all caloric intake for the next 2 weeks.

Can't thank you enough....

Make mine butter pecan.

Rocky Road in your honor! (I don't mean to be unpleasant, but it sounds to me like you should be able to get to a pulmonologist sooner than they planned.) Are they complacent? I would think you would be near the top of the list, in terms of "triage."

Keep eating that ice cream! What's your favorite flavor? Many of us will indulge in your honor!

Ronni, Ben and Jerry's coffee ice cream with toffee chunks in it is my absolute favorite, and I recommend it!

I celebrate your anniversary with pleasure and with the hope that your breathing will be improved shortly. You're the greatest!

For everyone who has asked: I have boring taste in ice cream - vanilla, vanilla chocolate chip and almost anything with caramel.

Like I said, boring.

My beautful Mother was taken by Pancreatic Cancer at 63. As I have just turned 60 I am grateful for everyday that I am blessed with. Enjoy icecream, sorbet, mousse and all things cold and calorific! Reilsh each day with passion. You are amazing! Sending love and longevity, Ginny

Sending you love and gratitude, Ronni, and having two virtual scoops with you. Reading this post, I was struck by how complicated it is, managing your illness. I'm sending good thoughts that a pulmonologist will be found soon and will have some helpful suggestions.

Call the pulmonologist office yourself, if you don't do it that way already instead of by Dr. referral, and tell them you will take a cancellation. If they hesitate, push, insist- be a pain. I've gotten many appointments moved up faster that way...sometimes by months. Pulmonologists are getting harder and harder to get first appointments with ( at least the good ones) and it's not like a breathing problem is a hang nail or sore knee!
I wish you best but I also wish I had your doc's phone number so I can give them hell for you.
Squeaky Wheel

Could Pulmonologists be the next hot doc? Climate change creating lung, breathing problems, especially in our lovely but fiery west coast? Or too much stuff in the air?

I see more and more people out and about with nose/face protections. What else can be done?

I agree with Jackie - you need relief at every turn of this dis-ease.

I'm having a milkshake for breakfast in your honor, joining the party a day late, but with equal enthusiasm, for the treat, for the calcium, and, most of all, for your anniversary. Sooo glad you're not going anywhere anytime soon!! Really, that's all any of us can hope for.

I am on board with those who have posted/commented suggestions/ideas/tips for seeing the pulmonologist ASAP. It bothers me that no one has seen that as a real necessity. Really hoping that you do have an appointment soon. It must be a scary feeling to not be able to breathe well. Happy, though, for the anniversary of 2 years of life, joy, and happiness! I am currently at my son's house (wife and 6 yr. old daughter) and we all had ice cream. I used to ask for a chocolate sundae at a fast food establishment, but lately have moved to strawberry and find it to be much easier to eat! Well, actually, I LOVE ice cream and always have. Positive thoughts moving your way.

ICE CREAM!!! Now that is almost a silver lining. What's your favorite flavor?

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