Chapter 28: I know tomorrow you’ll find better things

I know tomorrow I’ll find better things.

Benedict is getting evicted TOMORROW! He’s taking a few hostages (my ribs and part of my lung) with him, but it’ll be worth it.

I’m taking one of my all time favorite songs with me. Listen and/or read along!

Here’s wishing you the bluest skies

and hoping something better comes tomorrow

hoping all the verses rhyme

and the very best of choruses to follow all the doubt and sadness

I know that better things are on their way

Here’s hoping all the days ahead won’t be as bitter as the ones behind you

Be an optimist instead

And somehow happiness will find you

Forget what happened yesterday

I know that better things are on their way

It’s really good to see you rockin’ out and havin’ fun

Living like you’ve just begun

Accept your life and what it brings

I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things

I know tomorrow you’ll find better things

Here’s wishing you the bluest skies

and hoping something better comes tomorrow

hoping all the verses rhyme

and the very best of choruses to follow all the drudge and sadness

I know that better things are on their way

I know you’ve got a lot of good things happening up ahead

The past is gone it’s all been said

So here’s to what the future brings

I know tomorrow you’ll find better things

I know tomorrow you’ll find better things

I know tomorrow you’ll find better things

I have listened to that song every single day at 8:30 AM for the past 8 months and 7 days. It is the ringtone for my morning chemo alarm, reminding me to take my little pink crimefighter known as Xalkori. Most days–when Daniel isn’t around and probably annoyed by hearing the same song on repeat day after day or when I’m not already out and about and doing something–I let the whole song play and do a little personal dance party or sing or hum along. It’s just way too good.

This song has been with me for a long time. A friend sent me the song about 11 years ago when I was going through a tough time and I have never once gotten tired of it. Listen to it and read the lyrics and you just may agree.

That alarm went off for the last time yesterday (Tuesday morning) and today is the first time it has not gone off AND I didn’t take the little pink crimefighter. I’ve been granted a 1 day reprieve from chemo to prepare for tomorrow’s surgery. I hope tomorrow I find better things.

It goes without saying that this has been quite a revolutionary time for me. I think these pictures sum it up quite nicely:

May 17, 2015


On May 14 2015 I saw Stephanie Grossman MD who was helping me figure out why I had a rare candida esophagitis infection. She took a thorough history and recommended we take a chest CT scan just to investigate a mysterious mass I had known about for over a decade but had been told over and over again that it was nothing to worry about. She also recommended I completely eliminate sugar from my diet and be on a strict Candida diet. Here’s my first grocery haul. It was brutal. Needless to say, that fateful visit with her got the ball rolling in a direction I didn’t even know existed! In retrospect we now know all of Benedict’s inflammation (given he is an inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor) kind of roasted and toasted my immune system and made way for Candida (Benedict’s rude sidekick) to take over.

July 15, 2015

IMG_6511.JPGAfter much testing that showed the mass had doubled in size from 2006 and after consulting with a thoracic surgeon, we decided on a mediastinoscopy to see if the mass had metastasized to my lymph nodes or if I had a lymphoma. I’m pictured here in the hospital following surgery for lymph node resection & biopsy, which showed no signs of metastasis or lymphoma.

July 15, 2015, Part 2

IMG_6512.JPGHere I am doing my post-op walking like a good physical therapist  patient would do. Of course the outfit has nothing to do with the number of narcotics I was taking…

July 27, 2015

IMG_6513.JPGIn the hospital for CT Angiogram taking on a new superhero persona for a change & showing that Benedict (he was named by then) was a greedy and thirsty vampire.

August 3, 2015

fine needle biopsy.JPGIn the hospital—again, after CT guided Fine Needle Biopsy (seriously my 4th CT scan in 2 months), which was inconclusive. Looking and feeling frail -I had lost 15 pounds! I was trying everything I could to put on weight but Benedict was too hungry and took all of the bacon I was eating and kept it for himself.

August 12, 2015

IMG_6527.JPGIn the hospital after faceplanting and then finding out that Benedict was, in fact, a very rare form of sarcoma tumor in my right lung and that he was causing the anemia that caused me to faint and a whole laundry list of other terrible symptoms–like weight loss (you saw the photos), constant fevers, night sweats, unrelenting coughs…to name a few.

August 21, 2015


In the oncology clinic getting the first of several unsuccessful iron infusions to try and help with my anemia.

September 5, 2015


I was completely touched and humbled (and still am!) by the outpouring of support from Duke ADPi sorority sisters from near and far. They banded together and sent truckloads of cards and gift cards. I couldn’t believe it.

September 13, 2015


After only 2 days on chemo I started to feel remarkably better-good enough for a day trip to the mountains! No fevers, no night sweats, started to gain weight AND my anemia began to improve. Unfortunately I did manage to break a rib coughing  around this time. (see the kinesiotape).

October 31, 2015

IMG_6515.JPG Nope, not a Halloween costume. Just business as usual. Finally gained all my weight back and getting much stronger!

December 8, 2015


After just 3 months on the Xalkori, Benedict shrank from 11.3 cm X 9.1 cm (i.e. ginormous) to 5.3 cm x 3.5 cm. Which, by the way, is more than 50% off if you’re doing the math. That was an OK kind of miscalculation.

January 2016


Amidst the chaos I made the daring leap to start my own PT and Pilates business, moving forward with the mindset of embracing self care and wholeheartedness toward not only my patients but more importantly-toward myself! It has been nothing but a blast so far!

February 2016


I had the honor of speaking at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting in Anaheim, CA. I decided to ditch the wonder woman get up for Minnie Mouse instead when we visited Disneyland at night! Several times while riding roller coasters I couldn’t believe that just a few months before there was no way I would have been able to ride a roller coaster!

March 7, 2016


Being a cancer patient means many different things to many different patients, but there is one thing we all have in common: frequent CT scans with contrast. It tastes horrible. Daniel and I have developed a  minor major obsession with Parks and Rec and I couldn’t sum up the experience of chugging barium sulfate any better than this scene with Ron Swanson.

March 9, 2016 Part 1


After finishing 6 months of chemo I celebrated with some fancy socks and fancy oatmeal.

March 9, 2016 Part 2


And then I had a follow up with Dr. D’Amato to get CT scan results. From December 2015 to March 2016 time flew by and Benedict had gotten all too cozy on the Xalkori. He decided to (pretty much) stop shrinking,  going from 5.3 X 3.5 cm to 5.0 x 3.0 cm. Dr. D’Amato decided it was time for surgery since there was no real change. I was having very mixed emotions about this news.

March-May 2016

IMG_6496 2.JPG

I had to undergo a myriad of tests for pre-surgery preparation. This required much back and forth wrestling with insurance and it took us 2 months to nail down a surgery date, leaving me feeling like I was constantly “on call”–surgery could be scheduled at any time once everything was approved and I had to be ready at a moment’s notice. This made it really hard to plan out or commit to anything, to say the least. I had to put a lot of things on hold that I’d put into motion thinking that surgery would be further away. So what did I do? Spend my time living it up and doing my favorite things in an effort to stay calm and take care of myself…like drawing and painting…

IMG_6499 2.JPGOr making anti-cancer chocolate…

IMG_6370 2.JPGor swimming outside…a lot

IMG_6316.JPGor paddleboarding…a lot

IMG_6474.JPGOr doing Pilates…a lot. I’d say this is a far cry from the frail Wonder Woman from August 3 2015, amiright? I’ve never been so glad to have my swimmer’s shoulders back in action.

IMG_6521 2.JPGAnd along the way I gained some mascots: Wondertot and Wonderkid! Cutest mascots on the planet! Don’t worry I’m not biased.

IMG_6510 2.JPG

But it hasn’t always been fun and games and even Wonder Woman needs a break…this picture taken yesterday after my 2nd to last dose of chemo. I’ve gone 8 months with nearly no nausea and it had to get me on the last day! Apparently I also need to clean my selfie cam.

May 17, 2016:


But the chemo didn’t get me for good. I rebounded for my last dose, number 498 to be exact. That’s 498 playings of Dar Williams “Better Things” (AM) or Kelly Clarkson’s “Gone” (PM). Many alarms went off in inopportune times (most notorious, while listening to Diana Nyad speak in a quiet auditorium), but they did their part in annihilating Benedict.

So…in summary, I guess I can say that there have been the best of times, and the worst of times, and there are a lot of uncertainties that lie ahead of me with surgery and recovery. BUT-one thing I know for sure is this:


And when in doubt, I’ll be leaning on  my favorite verse from my no-longer-but-was-for-a-long-time morning chemo alarm:

It’s really good to see you rockin’ out and havin’ fun

Living like you’ve just begun

Accept your life and what it brings

I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things

I know tomorrow you’ll find better things

Say it with me now: #adiosbenedict!!!!