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Michelle Kendall - Journal

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Posted 2017-09-06T01:57:00Z

Yay for being Normal!

My bloodwork is normal!  I have made it one year post chemo -- four more years to go and I got this monster beat!  This weekend we celebrated my 18 month post surgery "re-birthday."  I look forward to the time when these milestones slip by unnoticed.  After a brief landing at home, I am off to Breckenridge to see my parents.  Bruce, my hero, is back at UCSB working away.  Here is a link to our condensed summer slideshow.  It's my first time using Lightroom.  I wanted to make breaks between countries and write captions -- but I don't have time.  Frustratingly, the pictures are displaying in reverse order, i.e., our last stop, Iceland, is at the top.  If you refer to the May 26th post for a map and itinerary you can think of it as a Geography quiz.   Best Of Summer 2017[...]

Posted 2017-08-28T11:56:00Z

Goodbye Porlock, Hello Poland.....

And Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Scotland, and Iceland. We're just days from the end of our 9-week mega adventure. We've been too busy biking, hiking, and visiting museums and friends to post anything! We explored 10 World Heritage sites, saw almost enough castles, tracked the last wild bison in Europe, and went on a beaver/moose safari.  We had an authentic wood fired Finnish sauna complete with birch branches and a naked plunge into the Baltic. We marveled at the Vasa, kayaked in the Swedish Archipelago, canoed on Lock Oich and sailed a tall ship around the Inner Hebrides. We biked 450 miles across the better part of 4 countries, and hiked 40 miles on the amazing Laugavegur trail amidst the bubbling volcanic mud and glaciers of Iceland. Wow![...]

Posted 2017-05-26T19:42:00Z

Perfect bloodwork! YAAAHOOOOOO

You could probably tell from my last two blog posts, I have been a tad nervous --OK a tonne anxious -- about my next round of bloodwork.  I was having funny feelings in my bladder and my mind instantly went to worst-case scenario.  I was so anxious I moved my blood draw and oncology appointment up.  I have put so much significance on traveling in Europe this summer and I was panicking that Porlock was going to thwart me, again.  Last fall, after 7 months of cancer treatment hell, when I was finally cleared from "chemo quarantine" and free to travel, we flew home.  I had spent the whole year before sabbatical researching and concocting interesting itineraries for the summer of '16.  It was spirit crushing to leave all those European dreams behind.  When we arrived home to SB I felt so vulnerable, I wasn't sure I would ever travel again.  I am thrilled to report a perfect health report card from Dr. Sekhon this morning.  Our victorious and ambitious Baltic and Northern European Adventure is a go!  July-August: 8 countries in 9 weeks.  Our Itinerary:[...]

Posted 2017-05-24T05:01:00Z

Please don't ask me how I am.

I have been wanting to write this blog post for a good long while but I was worried I would sound prickly at best, ungrateful and bitchy at worst.  And let me be very clear -- I know people have the best intentions.  I appreciate all the love and support!  But please, don't ask me how I am.  It is not helpful.  I can only speak for myself (someone with a less serious diagnosis may enjoy talking about the ins and out of their health issues), but for me it is an unwelcome reminder of dying way too young from this evil malady.  The very best day for me is not jetting around the world but simply a day without a single cancer thought.  Asking me, “How are you?” with a certain intonation instantly changes the topic to cancer.  I know I am still ridiculously reactive to hearing the word CANCER  (Damn you, NPR, and your ads for Cancer Treatment Centers of America).  I am working hard with my hospice/CC counselors to be less reactive.  It is not easy.  After recurrence prognosis is very poor.  Only 10% of women survive 5 years after their salvage chemo.  Take a minute to think about that, and then understand what an unwelcome reminder "How are you?" is.  I may feel OK today, but the future is tenuous.  I am trying to move forward and live life the best I can, which unfortunately means fighting cancer for the rest of my life.  "You look great, everything is OK, right?"  or "How are your treatments going?" -- while these are meant to be helpful, they are not.  My point: a brief interaction like this probably makes you feel like you're being supportive, but it makes me feel worse!  I need to practice saying, "Thanks for asking how I am but talking about it is detrimental to my mental health.  Visit my blog for updates."  [...]

Posted 2017-05-22T06:39:00Z

Where in the world is Michelle?

I have been feeling sheepish about writing lately.  Flaunting my adventures feels extravagant and I am embarrassed by how lucky I am.  I have always been passionate about exploring the hidden corners of the globe, but now that life is perched on a powder keg I want to go everywhere and do it all -- today.  I can't say thank you enough to Bruce for appeasing my insatiable desire for travel this year.  Being empowered to seize the day is great, but recently I wondered, "Am I traveling just to evade Porlock?"  If I could travel far enough to escape recurrence I would take on that challenge, but obviously I can't.  After three back to back trips -- Costa Rica, Oregon and San Francisco -- I delayed a trip to Hawaii because I can't keep running forever.  (Terry, I promise we will go on a trip somewhere!)  Today was actually the first time since returning from Oxford that I enjoyed just hanging out at home.  I wasn't planning a trip or plotting an escape.  I mowed the lawn, harvested apricots, baked a pie, and sat on our lovely front porch.  It felt good to just sit and be with what is.  [...]

Posted 2017-03-09T20:46:00Z

Dog sledding my way to a one year "re-birthday" and celebrating with the best present of all- great blood results!

March 3rd marked my one year surgery anniversary.  I wanted to celebrate with a BIG adventure.  A 5 day, 100 mile dog sled trip on the outskirts of Denali National Park sounded like just the right amount of crazy.  Thankfully my long time friend Andrea is the kind of person who thinks spending a week mushing across the frozen tiaga in 20 below sounds like fun.  We had a fabulous time!  [...]

Posted 2016-12-11T00:48:00Z

crash and burn landing back at home......

It is almost three months since we returned to Santa Barbara.  Coming "home" has felt like a step back.  I knew I was being hopeful when I thought I could just leave Porlock buried in Oxford.  That goal of keeping my mind positive and free from cancer thoughts has been harder than I imagined.   My emotions swing like a giant wrecking ball from depression to disbelief and back again.  When I am feeling emotionally stable and happy, my brain thinks: this can't possibly be happening.  When I feel the full force of my disease, my brain descends into despondency.  I have yet to know how to be content in the same moment that I am with my diagnosis.  It makes me feel bipolar: how can these two realities coexist?  I'm working on it.  I have started going to counseling at the Cancer Center and Hospice.  Part of my homework is to write down my negative thoughts and learn to replace them with positive thoughts.  I have also been attending the "young survivors support group," nutritional counseling, yoga classes, and Reki, and will start a neuropathy program in January.  It feels like I am at the CC every day,  I hate that this is my reality.  But for now it is helpful, and the support is great, so I go.  [...]

Posted 2016-10-12T18:37:00Z

Kidnapped to Colorado

We were barely in SB long enough to get our lives unpacked when my parents "kidnapped" me to Colorado.  Mom had a severe "hug deficit" and needed a week of mommy-daughter time.  We hiked, jacuzzied, and enjoyed the fall colors and mountains.  Bruce flew in for a quick three day weekend.  We hiked on the Eaglesmere Trail in the Eagles Nest Wilderness to the spot where he proposed years ago.  He asked again and I said YES, YES, YES.  Mom and I spent 4 perfect days at Devils Thumb Ranch where I fulfilled my lifelong dream to drive a team of carriage horses.  I feel so lucky! Thanks to Mom and Jim for an unforgettable end of Chemo/birthday/Festivus present.  I posted more pictures here.[...]

Posted 2016-09-29T05:46:00Z

back in Santa Barbara

Our first 10 days in Santa Barbara were a whirlwind of chores. We bought two new electric cars and tried to figure out how to work them.  We bought new iPhones and tried to figure out how to work those too.  hen we tried to figure out how to get the iPhones to talk to the cars!!  Everything seems complicated and I feel old.  Email me for our new phone #'s.[...]