Archive for February, 2011

Deanne’s Song

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

One truly knows they are loved when someone writes a song for you.  I am speechless, truly speechless.  Thank you Asia, from the inner most place in my heart.



These are the lyrics: 

She’s wingless she’s got stars in her hair

And if she crash lands, flowers made of hands will be there

She’s falling through the atmosphere

The ground once so far now draws itself near

When she should run she stands

Her thread, her seams are undone

It is time to shed her old skin, her old skin.

And time is irrelevant to her now

When she’s terrified and they are reaching out.

We love her

The sky rains from its eyes

She’s sunshine radiating through these dark time

And when she should run she stands

Now her wings are gone

She’s got legs to carry her across this land

She’s got legs to carry her across this land

She’s wingless she’s got stars in her hair

And if she crash lands, flowers made of hands will be there ♥

Singer songwriter, Guitarist – Asia Graves

Lead Guitarist –  Travis Brown

(Coming to Youtube soon for those of you without a facebook account)

To Chemo or Not to Chemo

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Dear Deanne,

“You are incredible!  Your life is both beautiful and nerve-rackingly unbelievable.  In everything you do we find ourselves thinking, “WTF, she is crazy!” and then in the next breath, “OMG she is freaking BRILLIANT!” So we’ll admit that we’re biting our nails as you double-dare the fates yet again.  But, we’ve also a solid feeling of, “Well of course, she’ll turn this thing on its head and use it as a key to unlocking the secrets of the universe. And if you need someone to hold your hand while you turn that key, well, we’re here for that too.”  


These are the words of my sister-in-law, Jenna and my brother, Kevin in a card they sent to me recently.  Well, Jenna and Kevin, you know me well.  Thank you for your beautiful and sincere card.  In typical Deanne style, I began to double dare the fates again.  I am questioning protocol, considering defying doctors, and contemplating a path less travelled. To chemo or not to chemo?  That is the question.

I am scheduled to have a port surgically implanted next Friday, March 4th and the chemo is planned to begin March 8th.  But like a bridegroom a few days before the wedding, I am getting cold feet.

The problem:  I DO NOT WANT CHEMO!!! 

Every time I think of going the route of taxotere and herceptin, I feel hopeless, depressed, overwhelmed and downright scared.  Yes, this is what is prescribed by the doctors.  Yes, it will improve my chance of survival.  But, like always, I know there are other options, other ways to battle cancer without chemo.  And, I am not the only one.  There are many people out there choosing not to do chemo and kicking cancer in the ass.

Here is what John Hopkins has to say: 


Cancer Update from Johns Hopkins:

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person’s lifetime.

3. When the person’s immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, but also to environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet to eat more adequately and healthy, 4-5 times/day and by including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.

What’s a girl to do after reading this?  Follow my doctor’s advice with chemo and herceptin or follow a more holistic approach by not feeding the cancer with a vegan diet, supplements and alternative treatments.  Many who choose the holistic route live for years, many die.  Many who choose chemo and herceptin live for years, many die.  In fact, one woman dies of breast cancer around the world every minute.  It is a pandemic. 

To chemo or not to chemo?  It is an almost impossible decision because cancer is so very complicated and unfortunately we do not have all the answers.  If we did, there would be a cure.  Let’s face it.  It sucks!  The whole thing sucks!  I am in a shitty situation, but I still have to decide.  What is the best path for me? 

I understand that for many, there is no decision.  The doctors say chemo, then chemo it is.  For those of you that know me, there is always a decision to be made, I question everything.  Don’t ever ask me my favorite color.  It may take a week for me to get back to you with an answer.

My doctors say chemo.  My diagnosis has not changed since surgery.  I still have a very aggressive cancer that can possibly metastasize to the brain, bones or organs and when cancer comes back a second time it tends to come back with a vengeance.  If that happens my prognosis is dim.  Adjuvant treatment with herceptin and chemo will increase my chance of survival to 85% or higher.  Without this treatment my survival rate is 50%.  So what is my problem you might ask?  The John Hopkins update, Suzzane Sommers, and alternative medicine.  Chemo is poison.  It takes you to the brink of death, has serious side effects like neuropathy, early onset of menopause and many other yucky stuff.  I can handle the hair loss and flu like symptoms but my mom has neuropathy and it has been brutal for her.  Is it worth the risk when others are healing themselves naturally?   

Honestly, I drove myself and others crazy this week asking myself this question over and over again.  Is it worth the risk?  I lost sleep over this decision.  I called everyone I know.  I met with many doctors.  I read.  I researched.  I cried.  I ate chocolate.  It reminds me of almost 10 years ago when I was trying to decide whether or not to take my kids out of school, except this time it is my life I am flirting with.  After talking to my mom about this, she said, “Honey, I want to grab you and shake you.”  I don’t blame her.  She thinks I make life harder than it has to be.  I agree.  But, in the same breath she said, “I’m proud of you.” 

Me and my Mom

Yesterday, I had a light bulb moment.  I realized that I am frozen with fear.  When I was a little girl, I could never rip that band aid off.  Remember Mom?  How did you put up with me?  I would slowly peel it away, bit by bit for days until it finally dangled there by a teeny thread, holding on for dear life, finally falling off when I least expected it.  It’s a bit like this, chemo that is.  I am fighting it.  I am trying to find every way around it, any loop hole to avoid it, any magic pill to steer clear of that moment when the poison drips into my veins.  The reality is that the band aid will eventually fall off.  Cancer won’t.  No way around it, whether with chemo or a full holistic approach, I have to take action and rip that band aide off. 

Riley told me a story the other day.  He said that his teacher asked each of his students to share with the class the thing they are most afraid of.  One kid said he was afraid of cacti after crashing into one very prickly cactus while riding his motorcycle.  Ouch!  I don’t blame him.  I asked Riley what he shared.  He said, “I’m afraid of losing my mom and dad.”  My heart filled with love and my eyes with tears when I heard these words from my 17 year old son. 

Riley and Bella

That’s it!  I need to rip it off, damn it, like that band aid I never could.  I need to be here for my children.  I need definite, crystal clear action.  I need to know with as much certainty as possible that I will not die.  I want to live!  I want to live for me.  I want to live for them.  So, I have made a decision, again.  Both chemo/herceptin AND the holistic approach!!!  I plan to rip the dam thing off doing everything I know possible and then move on with my life.  No regrets.

Yes, Jenna and Kevin, you are right.  I am crazy sometimes.  Yes, mom, you are right too, I do have a tendency to make my life more difficult than necessary.  But, it is exactly this craziness, turning things on its head and stubbornness that answers are found, light bulbs go on and keys are turned, unlocking our own personal truth and the secrets of the universe.  It’s not easy but somebody’s got to do it. Thank you, all of you, for being there for me and holding my hand while I turned that key.

I love you Mom!

Current Pain Level: Purple

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

I am finding it difficult to write.   My right arm does not want to cooperate with me after having my breast and five lymph nodes removed and my brain is in a thick fog from the pain medication.  But no matter the obstacles, I will write.  And no matter the difficulties, I am officially on the road to recovery.  And in Deanne style, my healing journey is a combination of crazy and fanatical, deliberate and measured, overwhelming and painful, and sweet and beautiful.  A bit like Mr. Toads Wild Ride, It’s a Small World and California Adventure all rolled into one.  The scary part is that this is only the beginning.   

 No one said it would be easy but the love and support I have received from all of you, especially from my mom, my dad and my husband this last week, could heal an entire village.  As Dr. Emmet Fox said:  There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer; no disease that enough love will not heal; no door that enough love will not open; no gulf that enough love will not bridge; no wall that enough love will not throw down; no sin that enough love will not redeem.

Love keeps me going.  From the moment of first being wheeled into the operating room, to waking up and finding out that my lymph nodes were clear, to getting up and attempting to walk for the very first time without passing out and the incredibly difficult unveiling of my breast or what is left of it.  Love.

It all began last Monday at 5:30 am as I checked into the hospital.  After all the pre-op procedures, paper work, blood pressure tests, meeting with the doctor, stripping down to the sexy hospital gown and an injection to get the party started, I found myself saying a dreamlike goodbye to my husband as they wheeled me through the cold blank halls and gray walls of the hospital into the operating room.  The only splash of color was the nurses and doctors in their blue scrubs.  A surreal feeling enveloped me, like it wasn’t really me.  Maybe this is what people refer to as an out of body experience.  Or maybe it was just the drugs.  At that moment, I completely let go and put my life into these doctor’s hands.  Trusting is not an easy feat for me.

The operating room was large and cold with huge blue flourecent lights hanging from above as the anesthesiologist prepared a potent cocktail for me.   I was having a nice conversation with him, although I can’t remember exactly what we talked about.  I may have said something that led him to think I’m famous.  Anyway, I do remember him saying, “Deanne, I am going to give you a bit of oxygen, it might make you sleepy.”  Next thing I remember, I was waking up in the recovery room to the sound of annoyingly loud snores, you know those drug enduced snores like on the Vicks Nyquil commercials?  I later realized that they were coming from me.   

A nurse came over to check on me.  Nurses are so beautiful.  They console you with their comforting angelic voices, make you feel safe and warm, and relieve your pain.  Kind of like mom used to do.  They are a true godsend.   And at that point in time, I needed God or someone there to represent her.  I was in a lot of pain.  They brought me a brilliant pain chart, pain by colors, to help me explain my pain.  The nurse asked me, “Deanne, which color best describes how you feel.”  I whispered, “yellow,” as I looked at the little not-so-smiley face, grimacing, moaning, shaking and nauseated.  When I think of yellow I think of bright and sunny.  The designer of the pain by color chart apparently doesn’t like the color yellow.  A few minutes later they injected what some refer to as Vitamin D directly into my IV. 

The next few hours were a fog, except I do remember the beautiful faces that came to visit me and the not so happy camper that shared my room the first night.  But what I remember the most, the news my family shared with me.  My lymph nodes are clear of cancer!  Haleluia!!!

I also remember being told I should get up and try to walk a few hours after surgery.  Ha!  That didn’t go so well.  The nurse and Kevin somehow held me up and got me back into bed before I did a face plant on the linoleum floor.   My blood pressure plummeted, my heart beat dropped, my legs felt like jelly, any color I did have immediately drained from my face, my stomach was churning and my entire right side felt like it was going to pound out of my chest.  No can do.  I tried again the next day with better luck but it was still ruthless.  Apparently, I have very low blood pressure that contributes to this reaction to pain and surgery.  Kind of ironic because they say low blood pressure is a sign of being healthy.  Well, I got to stay one more night.  Thank God, except for the bed pans.

Bed pans?  Hate them…

The doctors discharged me on Wednesday.  That’s a funny word, discharge, as if I were released, set free, liberated from my two nights at the hospital.  Honestly, they treated me well and I was a bit nervous to go home. 

The actual act of going home was a feat in itself.  Every bump, twist of the wheel, pothole, and quick stop was painful.  And that was just the trip in the wheelchair from my room to the car. 

When I finally got home, my family was waiting for me.  My bedroom was so warm and welcoming, a nice change from the cold stark hospital room.  My mom had pulled my sheets down and a beautiful inspirational note from my daughter was placed on the pillow like a chocolate.  Bouquets of pink roses, Iris, carnations and daisy’s livened up my room and replaced the color I had lost in my cheeks on the drive over.  Cards filled with personal sentiments, love and prayers as unique and beautiful as each signature that filled the blank spaces adorned my shelves.  I was wearing my new pajamas Raundi gave me covered in little red hearts.  It felt as if every one of you had tattooed your heart onto me.  I could feel the love flowing around me and through me.  And, as I slipped between the sheets, I felt all of your warms arms wrap around me, holding me tight.  What more could a girl ask for? 

MEDS!!!  It felt as if I were wearing a bra several sizes too small.  I could not lift my arm, it didn’t seem to work any more.  And just the simple act of getting up to go pee was like climbing Mt. Everest.  OUCH!!! I asked my surgeon, Dr. Deck, “How long will I feel like this?  He looked at me sweetly and said, “Deanne, give it 3 or 4 days.”  In other words, be patient, healing takes time.       

The next day was the unveiling of my breast.  I was so scared.  I was scared of the car ride over, taking off the bandages, removing the pain pump and looking at the place where my breast used to be only 3 days earlier.  My pain level was at yellow again, although this time it was more emotionally induced.  At first, I could not look.  I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and let the doctor do his magic.  As he unwrapped the last bandage, Dr. Smith said, “Looks good, real good.”  Ok.  This is my cue, “Go ahead Deanne,” I told myself, “open your eyes girl,” “you can do this.”   

Yes, you can do this.  The doctors can cut the cancer from my body, the stitches can stop the bleeding, the Vicodin can help ease the pain, Macrobiotics can boost the immune system, implants can give me some sense of womanhood but the real healing comes from deep within, knowing that I am loved and that I love.  I can do this!

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
— Hubert H. Humphrey

I am now at pain level purple, sore but with the ability to smile, a big improvement from yellow.  I know I have some very difficult days ahead of me, but I also know that yellow will turn to purple again.  My frown will turn upside down especially with love.

Next week chemo starts.

 To be continued…

Pep Talk from Coach Beez

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

As most of you know by now, my surgery is tomorrow morning at 7:30 am. 

I want to share with you the pep talk my friend Matt gave me:

 just wanted to give you the ol pep talk ( i am a coach you know ; )

” Listen up! That team in the other locker room is here to kick your ass. They think that because they surprised you the first time, that they have your number. Little do th…ey know who the f*** they’re messin with. You’re not layin down for nobody. You’ve worked too damn hard, been through too much shit to lose when it counts. Look at me!… are gonna go out there with only one thought in your goddamn head: ‘

 No matter what you throw at me, I will push back double. No matter what happens in the game, I will keep fighting and fighting, because there’s no way in hell I’m losing.

When that buzzer goes off, I will have kicked your ass so bad,


Thank you Matt! 
I will not let you and my team down.  And, when all is well and done, you will all be patting me on the ass saying,
“Good Game Girl, Good Game!


Check out Matt’s basketball web comic at

He is quite the talented guy!!!

Stopping Boys in Their Tracks

Friday, February 4th, 2011

We all have a tendency of taking things for granted at times, our husbands, wives, jobs, homes, health, time, and best friends.  It is not always a bad thing according to Dr. Joyce Brothers, American psychologist and author.  “Being taken for granted can be a compliment. It means that you’ve become a comfortable, trusted element in another person’s life.”  However, it becomes pretty scary when you wake up one morning and realize that trusted element, the thing you have taken for granted over the years, is not going to be there for you anymore.  That can be rather devastating.  Of course, I am talking about my breast right now although I could easily be talking about a husband or a friend.  In a few days it will be gone.  Cut off from my body, poked and tested and thrown out with other body parts in the hospital incinerator.

My breasts have been with me since I can remember.  First, they were just two simple circular markings on my chest, no different than my brothers.  A time when going topless was sweet and innocent.   Then as I grew, they grew too, becoming round, soft and stopping boys in their tracks.  I was not quite ready for this role however, so I would wear a T-shirt under my school uniform blouse so no one could see that I was wearing a training bra.  Why do they call it a training bra by the way?  Training for what?

When I was in the sixth grade, I was one of the first girls to develop perky little breasts.  I became the recipient of innocent and not so innocent teasing from my girlfriends.  They would say, “Meeks shake your peaks.”  Meeks is my maiden name.  They were just jealous that I could shake them and they couldn’t.  As I grew into my bra and my new found role of stopping boys in their tracks, some of these same girlfriends and I would put grapefruits in our bras and jog down Central Avenue drawing many honks from passerby.

A few years later, after relentless role testing of stopping boys in their tracks, I read an article in “17 Magazine” entitled, “Do you have large Breast?  Take the test?”  The test consisted of placing a pencil under your breast, if it stays put, your breast are large.  Well, I passed the pencil test with flying colors.  I decided to up the ante and go for a banana.  Yes, I passed that too.

Upon graduation from college, my girlfriends and I backpacked across Europe.  We found ourselves on the beach in the south of France where topless women stormed the beaches like D-Day, sunbathing, swimming, walking and playing paddle board.  These women were young, old, thin, not so thin, natural (before silicone), beautiful and real.  Unfortunately, I was too modest back then to partake.  A few years later in Mexico, becoming a bit overconfident in my role of stopping boys in their tracks, I decided to throw caution to the wind and let freedom reign.  Well, Mexico is not France.  There were mostly vacationing Americans and locals on the beach selling silver jewelry, freshly made tamales and “chiclet”.  Well, you can imagine the stir I caused.

Americans have such a fascination with breasts.  We call them by many different names, boobs, jugs, knockers, hooters.  We wonder if they are fake or real or too big or too small.  We spend millions of dollars every year surgically enhancing them.  We buy low cut blouses, push up bras, adorn them with jewelry and tattoos and do special exercises to lyrical songs. Remember this one ladies, “I must, I must, I must increase my bust,” as we pump our arms back and forth in hopes of increasing our cup size from an A to a D.  There is no denying that breasts are an American pastime and I would even venture to say, Americans are obsessed.

As obsessed as we may be, most of us recognize that there is another side to breasts, a natural inherent beauty symbolizing femininity, fertility, nurturing, sustenance, tenderness, and love.  They give pleasure and receive pleasure, orbs of pure bliss and delight.  They add beauty to the world and embody nurturing and motherhood.  A woman’s breasts represent the uniqueness in each and every one of us and they are to be celebrated.  Whether beautiful and sexy, alluring and charming, soft and supple, dynamic and vivacious, quiet and stoic, large and loud, small and timid, notable and famous, they are nature’s gift to men, women and last but not least, babies.

Babies!  My breast took on an entirely new meaning when I brought my first child into this world.  They became a life source, a natural spring, generously giving sustenance and nourishment to Riley, Casey and Maggie.  I will never forget the feeling of breastfeeding, giving love and life from my own body, absolutely miraculous.  It should be considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  I will also never forget the size of my breasts.  Honestly, my boobies were bigger than my baby’s heads.  No kidding!  I was afraid I might suffocate the poor things.

My breasts have accompanied me through the many changes and stages of my life.  As they have grown, developed, changed and matured, I have too.   They are a part of who I am and I am deeply grateful for them.  We have shared so much together, the girls and me.

So, I dedicate this post to breasts; to my breasts, to your breasts, to all breasts and the women that own them!  I will no longer take these miraculous wonders for granted.  In fact, there are a lot of things and people I will no longer take for granted.  My appreciation runs very deep, so deep that no amount of cutting can take them away.  They can cut my glandular tissue, fat, lymph nodes and nipple from my body but they cannot strip me from my memories, my femininity, my beauty and my ability to still stop boys in their tracks.

Deanne and Raundi, New Years Eve

My girlfriend Raundi has turned breasts into poetry.  She is talented beyond belief and her beauty radiates to everyone she touches.  She wrote this poem especially for this blog.  She offers creative writing and poetry workshops and can be reached at

The Hills Are Alive

By Raundi K. Moore-Kondo

There are hills. And then, there are HILLS.

Sometimes, it is a mountain climb,

but there is always an exquisite pink climax,

and a lofty downside.

Equal and equitable. Part joy and part grief. Opposite and attractive.

A gift to the oglers and the fondlers, and the really tight-huggers.

The mere sight of one has been scientifically proven

to lengthen a man’s life.

But, somewhere between bumblebee sting and asymmetrical standing ovation, it stopped being okay to go topless,

in a wading pool, in my own back yard.

I learned that AFTER giving up Second base, the focus will still be home plate.

And that, not everything comes out in the wash.

Like the sunburned edges of a new bikini top.

The AK-47 shaped scar across my heart

from an underwire gone haywire.

The hieroglyphic distress messages, sent from heavily laden milk-ducts.

And the pre-pubescent brand of regret from wearing a white t-shirt to a water balloon fight.

The lucky ones will go from “points sittin’ way up high”, to swinging low and sentenced to a life in blind solitary


Only to be let out to play for what some might call “bad-behavior”.

There is a lot of jiggle room between nearly “A” and triple “F”.

At some point they all demand training, pushing up and/or padding.

There are desperate times that call for demitasse, sports suspension,

T-back or strapless. On occasion, all are required within the same day.

But it’s no mistake that these private cells are molded from the cloth of Superheros.

Lycra-spandex and lined, eyehook complicated, and designed to carry the life-support system

for future rock stars, CEO’s, Nobel Prize winners, girls with chubby legs,

and boys who can sweet talk them all apart.

Run a finger along the sacred mother of pearl,

buried and tangled up in blue.  Pray for Twin Tower’s fighting the fall.

Busted in cameo ivory, thrust forward in 3-D, 4G and CGI.

No matter the medium, there is no mistaking

the peek-a-boo glimpse of a pink area -Oh -la la.

Bless every man, woman, and child who has ever held one against their tongue.

Painted its perfect full-moon likeness on a canvas, or shaved marble till the under-curve was just right.

Like it or not, look down.

No matter what, those are your breasts.

Right now. As they are, they are perfect.

They have power. Use it for good.

You cannot deny them. No matter how many turtlenecks

and baggy sweatshirts you wear.

We all know they exist.

If only, in spirit.

The slumber party dare to bare will always be a phantom limb.

They have withstood the playground bully punch.

Persevered against prom dress cleavage envy, and

been led to believe one too many back seat, pearl-necklace promises.

They know how to slap back against the pendulum swing and shock-absorption of some madman’s boardroom table.

But they can’t ignore the energy-conserving,

 mongrel back-alley fight, between saline, silicone,

and what God, and your father’s mother, gave you.

Augmentation or reduction?

At one time or another,

I have considered them, both.

We are at least part hourglass logic.

Prepared to defy physics, diagnoses, doctors and statistics.

 So we find a way to accept latex glove palpations.

The pinch of a boy. The bite of a man.

The ravenous tug of infant lips.

Bring on the bloody nipples, the rocking chair bliss

and the holy water, let-down delirium.

It will rain diamonds under my skin.

We are each masters whose truest art is born

when we begin to discover the things we can learn to live without.

I say, just once…

dance bra-less.

Set those suckers free.

let your lady lumps lap the lights fantastic

See how many ways they can move to Jay-Zee

Lower your nipples in paint.

Play some Jazz. Let them improvise.

Jackson Pollock splatter all over your kitchen floor.

Give them a skinny dip, in the ocean at sunset.

Hang glide topless.

Flash your best friend.

Eat Right.

Play Hard.

Be Happy.

Get Plenty Of Sleep.

Pray Often.

And, Stop Worrying.

But, sometimes it’ll still come down to,

“Lady, its your boob or your life”.

So we lay our breasts in the hands of

Science and poorly trained Victoria Secret employees.

They deserve so much more than that.

If you have at least one to hold, hug it tight tonight.