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Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Infinite Lizdom

Hello Boobleites,

Hope everyone's enjoying their break from bread and vices this EastOver season. Spring is upon us and I don't think it could get here fast enough. My shmoop and I are taking a share in a house out east this summer and I can just feel the sun freckling (read: damaging) my face as I write this. It's just another gift for which I have to be thankful. 

While on the topic of being thankful, I had a good doctor's appointment on Thursday. I hadn't had a follow up in a month and my on-call-ogist said my lungs sound OK despite the residual hack I have from the cold I caught a couple of weeks ago. It's a bit reminiscent of my "cancer cough" which is a bit disturbing, but the chest x-ray was fine (e.g. no pneumonia, no evidence of new tumors) and surprisingly, with the exception of the cough, I bounced back rather quickly. The next cat scan of my lungs will take place in mid-April. Stay tuned for more good news.

I've recently stumbled across postings on a few websites that some people taking Xeloda get very weepy. I definitely have found myself getting emotional sometimes when I least expect it. A few months ago on the way to my friend Nicola's baby shower I met up with my friend Kate and when I saw her I started sobbing. I was fine at the shower but when I was saying good-bye to Nicola, I sobbed more. Trust me when I say I love both of these ladies and like most friends I don't see them nearly enough, but I typically don't weep when I see them. I couldn't tell if my tears were a result of my "cancer wounds" still being fresh, if it's the Xeloda, or perhaps I'm just overwhelmed with the abundance of love I have in my life (but maybe once took for granted)? This past Sunday I told my friend Tara about a really sweet gesture someone recently made for me and her response was, Liz, this doesn't surprise me; people love you. I'm tearing up as I write this. 

The gesture? In January I was introduced to this fabulous jewelry designer, Pauletta Brooks. I bought a few of her pieces (no, not all for me!) at a trunk show that took place in her awesome Chelsea loft and subsequently I made a couple more purchases on line. I've been in touch with Pauletta a few times to tell her I get oodles of compliments whenever I wear my geode pendant and that I am now on the market for an amethyst piece from her collection; I read about the stone's amazing healing properties, specifically but hardly limited to the lungs. Lo and behold two days later I get a little package from Pauletta, a woman I've personally met only once. She sent me a blue velvet pouch filled with amethyst stones, which I now carry around with me daily. Of course when I opened the package, the waterworks opened as well.

The hugs, phone calls, emails, stones, stoner cookies(!), songs, a green there an end to this love because I have an infinite capacity for more! And speaking of infinity, my sister-in-law Harumi, a burgeoning sculptor, blew me away with her recent project, Infinity. Harumi was inspired to make Infinity this year as a tribute to my stepmother, Arlene, who has been dealt a hardcore crappy cancer card (pancreatic has metastasized to several organs), myself and all the other women in the world struggling with cancer. It's with heavy heart that I share Harumi lost her mother to cancer when she was just a teenager and the love and passion she has for wanting to help others shows in this beautiful piece of work.

May I present to you, Infinity...

Some information about Infinity:

Style:                 Female bust sculpture without a base
Title:                  “Infinity”
Medium:             Plaster cast
Color:                 Plaster white             
Size:                  W 4.5” x D 2 3/4” x H 5 3/4” 
Weight:               616g/1.35 lbs.  

About Harumi:
Harumi moved to New York from Tokyo with her husband in 2004.  She studied Life Figure Sculpture at The Art Students League in Manhattan with Jonathan Shahnstarting in 2007.  To understand more about human anatomy and form, she also began drawing live figures at the Spring Studio in SoHo run by Minerva Durham.  She continues to draw live models to get inspirations. 

Harumi studied Environmental Design at Joshibi University of Art and Design in Tokyo, Japan, where she trained herself to feel and read light, shadow and air flow. In that sense, her works can be a part of space wherever they belong or the other way around, where they create space.

Harumi has created a mold for this project which means that it can be duplicated. Currently only three have been made and mine sits proudly on a side table in the Barbie Dreamhouse (my apt). If you are interested in purchasing this beauty (and seeing some of Harumi's other works; I'm a huge fan of her drawings), the cost is $350 a portion of which will be donated to the charity of your choice. Please let me know if you are interested and I will put you in touch with the artist; the turnaround time for the final piece is approximately two months. 

I know I'm probably biased, but I really love this sculpture. I like to think she is looking into the future wondering what life will bring her while at the same time wondering how she will use all of her strength, determination, and support of others to get there.  I'd love to hear your thoughts about Infinity, too.

Well, folks, it's a beautiful day, the sun is shining and I'm inspired to go out and make the best of this day. I hope you will do the same. 

My heartfelt thanks to all who are reading this. 

Much love, 


Friday, March 8, 2013

Much Ado About Everything & Nothing

Hi All,

Been out of touch with a broken computer and then spent a few days in Florida visiting family. I've had so many different things to blog about running through my head so pardon this mismash of stuff.

Arts & Leisure (Occurred February 10th)
I don't how to express my thanks to Katia Floreska who gave a shout out to me at Joe's Pub. Katia is one of the regulars of The Loser's Lounge, one of NYC's best bands. They perform every 6-8 weeks at JP (part of the Public Theater) and on each occassion the band (called the Custard Kings) pays tribute to one or two bands with each of the 20 guest singers doing their own interpretation of one of the featured band's songs. This night happened to be a battle of the bands: James Taylor vs Cat Stevens and there was no doubt in my mind for whom I was cheering. Though I like JT now and then (love "Smiling Face"), I remember listening to my dad's Cat Stevens Greatest Hits 8-track in what we called our music room (it once had a piano which was replaced by an 8-track player). The music absolutely resonated with me and every now and then when I can't sleep, I play his music. Well, Katia and I made eye contact while she was on stage and I about two rows away. After she was introduced she announced something to the effect of, I don't want to embarass this person, but I want to dedicate this next song to my friend Liz Belson. Shit. Embarrassed? Hell no, I was so blown away by this gift. And what followed blew me away even more. Katia killed it!!! Listen for yourself here:

Katia, I love you and happy belated birthday! Peace to YOU, Babe!

Travel (Originally drafted in Fla on March 2nd)
I am sitting in my favorite spot of my family's house, that is, my feet are propped up on an ottoman in front of the pool, looking out at the 16th hole. I just read an article in a local rag about whether or not a woman with breast cancer that metastasized to her lungs and bones would benefit from medical marijuana. Is there really a debate over this? Ok, maybe smoking it isn't the best idea but certainly a brownie as opposed to two or more alternative toxic meds referenced in the article would be ideal, don't you think?  No need to answer, we all know there's a "right" answer.  Somehow this article managed to really piss me off. The woman is 68 years old, has advanced cancer and some doctor is nervous that she might have anxiety from her reaction to the marijuana.  Something's wrong with this picture.

In the meantime, while a bit chilly (Honey, you should take a sweater kind of chilly), taking in a little vitamin D while looking out at palm trees is so relaxing. I do love the change of seasons in NY and I'd never suggest living in a hot climate year round but as I get older I realize I have a need to escape the cold and grey New York I call home.  It all seems so complicated though. One has to keep track of vacation days, consider costs for travel and work around other people's schedules. I was talking to a co-worker the other day and he said he's so excited because he's about to enter his 15th year on the job and now he's entitled to four weeks vacation.  FIFTEEN years at the same job. He then told me how some of the other staff have been working 40 years (!) and they get five weeks vacation. On the one hand, this speaks well about the job, for few people will last 40 years at a job these days. On the other hand, this makes me think, is this what life is about? Busting your butt so that in 15 years you're entitled to what I think is a very reasonable amount of time off to give everyone? I've no idea where I am going with this thought other than it seems there must be a happy balance to work and play (travel) and I haven't really figured out a way to master that yet.

Palm Trees, Sunshine, Green Grass               Fabulous Tree Near Dad's House Makes Me Happy

Style Section 
A major FASHION DON'T as seen at the Mets vs Marlins spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL...A grown woman sporting pig tails with Scuncis and a Mets cap. Need I say more? (Yes, I can be a B!t¢H)

Health & Nutrition (Tune in March 16th)

Next Saturday, March 16th @ 5PM, I'll be a guest on the radio show Stirring The Pot on WPPB 88.3FM I'll be joining radio show host and nutritionist Stefanie Sacks with whom I've had the great privilege of consulting and the author of The Cancer Fighting Kitchen, Rebeca Katz, talking about, what else, fighting cancer with a healthy diet and lifestyle!

Through a partnership with Hamptons’ NPR— Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB)-- the show airs through Eastern Long Island and Southern CT. You can also catch it via live stream or if you miss the show, check out the podcast). I believe I'm scheduled to come on during the last 10 or 20 minutes of the show.

I also want to share this tidbit of info one of my Cancer Dancer (see old dance recital blog post from 2009) friends Zulma passed on to me. I've yet to try this but plan to purchase one this weekend and will let you know if it offers me any relief:

Last but not least in this section, I want to mention the approval for use of the new drug Kadcyla  to help treat women with Her2 positive metastatic breast cancer. Thanks to several of you who thought to pass on this information to me. The drug does not treat my type of cancer as I am not Her2 positive, but it will certainly help millions of other women!! Another reason to think positive!

Local News
On February 13th I took my first follow Cat scan with contrast since I began chemo on Christmas Eve 2012. I will spare you the details of that day's awful appointment but I will tell you that I had to have not one, but two of those horrid fart bag drinks; if you saw a mushroom cloud rise above your home that day, it was me passing by.

Anyway, the results of the scan showed no change in size of the tumors. At first I thought this wasn't great news, but the doctor's reaction was good because they didn't get bigger. The idea is to contain the disease, that is, prevent it from spreading and of course if possible, shrink or eliminate the tumors. The fact that symptomatically I am better, that is, my cough is gone, is a good indication that the chemo is working. The next scan will take place in about another month and seeing as even more time will have passed, maybe we'll see more improved results.

In the meantime, my Xeloda schedule is still 2 in the AM and two in the PM for seven days every other week. It definitely is a tolerable dose but I will say I am feeling the side effects as it builds up in my system. My feet are sore and blistered and the nausea persists for a few days after the Xeloda cycle has ended (hence I will try the wristband and continue with the acupuncture). This of course is nothing compared to what other people in treatment endure so I'm not complaining. 

On that note I want to leave you with this video which was passed on to me shortly after my diagnosis. I've yet to watch it without weeping so be warned. For those of you who don't know pop singer Kelly Clarkson (first winner of American Idol), this song held different meaning to her when it was written but I think this is amazing.