First Treatment

Melanie w/ IV
Melanie w/ IV

So, here I am in Houston, and treatment has begun in earnest. On the last 2 trips home to Dripping after appointments at MDA, I have been hit full force with the reality that I am not just in Houston to visit my friends Anita, David, Wheeler, Laura, and precious family members. I am being treated at MD Anderson, by G-d!! MD Anderson, the place I had refused over and over again to seek out for evaluation. This is SERIOUS stuff!!

Typically I have been somewhat of a cheerleader, particularly after coming up with a plan I like and can believe in. I act almost as if this is just a gallbladder or other minor medical problem. I feel good, with a few abdominal aches, but nothing “to write home about.” Everybody gets funky sensations at times. However, after many long days of appointments, and the little niggling thoughts at the back of my brain, the reality of how serious this situation is hits home! When I read notes about how I am fighting for my life, I have to acknowledge that this is actually true. It doesn’t seem fair or possible at times–I have always exercised, eaten extremely healthy, love what I do, and am surrounded by fabulous friends and family. I have always tried hard to be a better, happier human being–whether that means being more patient with parents, children, Michael, friends, or strangers. It also means looking at ways to decrease my stress level and be kinder to me, Melanie.

But, it is what it is. So, here I am. A great deal of stress has been relieved by my precious daughter starting a GoFundMe account. Originally, my bigger concern was not, how am I going to treat this problem, but how in the world can we survive another financial hit? So thanks to all of you who advised Arielle and spread the word!! It is weird to be on the receiving end of charity, but I am extremely grateful!

My 2 days of treatment have been truly much easier than expected. The daily radiation treatments last 20 minutes, and the technicians play whatever music I request in the background. I have felt absolutely nothing, and probably will not experience noticeable ill effects for a few weeks. The chemo yesterday was SO much easier than 3 and 1/2 years ago!! Cisplatin does not cause neuropathy nor hair loss, just more nausea, which they try to circumvent by anti-nausea meds, both IV during treatment and orally for days following chemo. I felt a little “off”, but nothing dramatic. Anita and I even managed to get in a walk around Cetennial Gardens, with its lovely waterfalls and flowers, (and then some fabulous lemonade) before going back for radiation. After resting, David (Anita’s very sweet boyfriend/husband) and Anita took me out for a fabulous dinner at True Foods. Yum, yumm! All I feel this morning is a slight headache.

So, enough for now. Keep sending those positive thoughts and prayers. I take great solace wrapping myself in them before, during, and after treatment.


Dear friends,
I have not started my blog yet, but I thought I would give you a quick update. Yesterday I drove into Houston and went to MD Anderson for three appointments. I met with my regular oncologist, Dr. Shafer, and his nurse practitioner. Dr. Schaeffer is brilliant, kind, and actually called my integrative physician, Dr. Lavalley, last week to discuss my protocol. I am super excited that they are conversing!

The other two appointments were for blood work and an MRI. I have to say the MRI was grueling. I was in that tube with my arms clamped to my side with a band for about an hour and a quarter. It sounded like there were jackhammers, telephone busy signals, and emergency warning clanging sounds going on the entire time, with just a few reprieves. If you haven’t ever experienced this, it is quite nerve-racking! I just had to keep breathing and telling myself I could do it, and picture myself being on my back porch with a cup of hot tea or swimming at Blue Hole. After the initial hour and a quarter, they pulled me out for a few minutes to make sure my IV was all right to inject the radioactive tracer, and they allowed me to pull my arms out and just rest them on my chest, which made things incredibly better.

I am staying with my friend Anita, and it has truly been wonderful to just be in her presence and know she is there for me. I have really been feeling pretty up beat, not depressed, and not panicked. We will attend a chemo class and tour this morning at 7:30, and then after a nap and breakfast I will go home, to return Monday morning. I’m hoping to take in some museums, and maybe do some other fun stuff while I am here in Houston, as long as I feel well on my radiation days.

Will let all of you know when I start my blog, and I so appreciate all the love and tenderness that has been sent my direction. I know Michael so appreciates it, also. I have not perfected my group messages, so if I have missed somebody, please extend my apologies and fill them in on my news.

Much love,


Dear Friends,
I am hoping to get a blog going, as suggested by my cousin, Eric, but for now I thought I would send this update on my treatment. I went to Houston yesterday to have an appointment with my Gynelogic Oncology Radiologist, Dr. Klopp. My dear friend, Anita C., went with me and attended all appointments, as she has for the last month. It has been fabulous to have her along as my driver and support person. Dr. Klopp went over the biopsy of my cyst, which held similar tumor cells as my original cancer, discussed the Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy I will be receiving, and also the possible side effects of both it and the weekly chemo I will be taking. I went thru a simulation, where they gave me 3 small tattoos (ooh, I’m so trendy!) to help set landmarks for the radiation, 2 CT scans, and a had a cool mold made for my legs so they don’t move.

I will begin radiation on Monday, June 19th. Radiation treatments will be 5 days a week for 6 weeks. I will have 1 chemo drug, Cysplatin, every Tuesday after the radiation. I am told that this drug will not cause me to lose my hair, but may make me more nauseated than last time. I weathered that storm fairly well previously, using homemade ginger tea (thank you Pam F.), peppermint tea, and other non-pharmaceuticals. Other possible side effects were discussed, most of which will hopefully disappear not too many weeks after treatment ends.

I have chosen MD Anderson because they are the most skilled, most experienced in treating this cancer in a way that will not destroy my immune system, but will hopefully destroy the cancer once and for all. I do not wish to repeat the stress or physical damage to my body that this diagnosis engenders. I will be living in Houston during the week, staying with friends and family. I am planning on resuming work here as soon as I am able. The drawback of being in Houston, of course, Is that I will miss Michael terribly, as well as my other friends and family. However, the pros outweigh the cons, and survival is the name of the game.

I am sending this email because it is impossible to speak personally with everyone of you that I love and adore–too much time, too depressing to go over details time and time again. If you are on Facebook, my daughter, Arielle, and son, Nathaniel, can probably keep you posted. If you want to reply to this email, I may be able to reply. Arielle has set up a care calendar, so that I am not inundated with food, and many friends have offered to drive me back and forth to Houston. For the time being, I will be driving myself on Sunday or Monday, returning on Fridays.

I do have to go back to Houston this Thursday for a few more appointments, but I am planning on working the first part of the week, as I feel absolutely normal. Please know that I love your concern and appreciate your love. However, I do not wish to have my persona be a “cancer person”. I will be honest with you. If I feel good and say so, do not treat me as a debilitated person. I am still me.

Much love,

MD Anderson

Dear Friends,
I wanted to let you know that my former disease has recurred There is never a pleasant way to give friends and loved ones bad news, but it is time to let you know what has transpired. Before I say anything else, I want you to know a few things. One, I am actually doing very well, mentally and physically. I have NO physical symptoms, and having made decisions for treatment has greatly lessened my stress. Two, I know that I have inadvertently left people off of this list. I wanted to send this out quickly, and there may be people whose names escape me at this moment. And lastly, I would appreciate it if you do not call me, as I do not have the time, energy, or desire to continually discuss the situation. It becomes distressing to go over all the details time and time again.

That being said, I have known since a March 14 check up that a “cyst” was found on manual exam in an area called the “cul-de-sac”, that was the one spot found 3 and 1/2 years ago during my hysterectomy and multiple abdominal/pelvic biopsies that was malignant outside of the uterus. My specific endometrial cancer is called Papillary Serous Carcinoma, and unfortunately, is a more aggressive, less common endometrial cancer. Everything was microscopic at that time–always giving a negative CT scan. Since then, the only indication that anything was amiss was a blood test that my Integrative physicians have me do. It is called the Oncoblot and reveals malignant cells that have a specific protein on their surface. Unfortunately, it has been positive for 3 years. So, even though conventional medicine said I was fine–no clinical signs–I have known that there was a possibility that this disease could still raise it’s ugly head.

So, very long story short, I was somewhat surprised by my oncologist’s discovery, but not shocked. After a CT scan, a PET scan, a 2nd opinion by a well-known gynecology oncologist in Dallas, several video conferences with my Integrative research oncologist, Dr. LaValley here, and I trip to Minnesota to visit the Integrative physician who has continually supplied my protocol, Dr. Foley, and has followed me, I went to MD Anderson 2 weeks ago to be evaluated. This past Friday, I had a biopsy that is positive. After much research and discussions with my 2 Integrative physicians, a radiology cousin, and a urological surgeon cousin, I have decided on IMRT at MD Anderson, along with small weekly amounts of Chemo. IMRT stands for Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, and it is a much more targeted, less immune destroying type of therapy. I had to ask for it, as all 3 “Conservative” doctors wanted me to have surgery and similar chemo to what I had before. I don’t believe that worked well enough, and I am not doing that again, as I have no faith in that combination. Also, much research shows that surgery not only knocks out your immune system, but also spreads the tumor seeds.

Therefore, I will be in Houston at MD Anderson in the near future (yet to be decided) for 6 weeks. Radiation will be 5 days a week for 6 weeks, plus weekly small chemo doses. This radiation is an easy choice for me as it is much more targeted–with much less collateral damage that the old kind, will be done by a team or Gynelogical Oncology Radiologists, who do this EVERY DAY, and the chances are MUCH greater that this therapy will kill the cancer cells, instead of merely delaying the next time I have to have treatment! Several physicians have told me that I did “very well”, as I made it 3 and 1/2 years with recurrence. I do not wish to do this again.

I have many friends and family in Houston. I will be able to stay with various people during my time there, will come home on weekends, and will hopefully be able to continue to do limited massage, pull a few weeds, and sit on my back porch with a nice cup of hot tea. I promise to keep you posted.

So that’s it for now. I’m going to get rid of this pest! And, I have an incredible support system–fabulous friends, family, clients, a precious 1 year old grand son, and one on the way. Just send me good thoughts and prayers, and I will wrap myself in them, knowing I have been divinely guided to this point.

Much love,