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I haven’t blogged in a long time.

Here’s the reason I’ve been quiet: in the past six months I’ve been relishing my ability to live a pretty “normal” life. Until my most recent MRI about a month ago, I hadn’t really been to the doctor for a good six months. In fact, I’ve been feeling pretty dang good since going on the ketogenic diet last November – it’s totally changed my life, giving me enough energy to go from eight in the morning to ten (or even eleven) at night. No, I’m not the energizer bunny, but I’ve really been doing all right.

Of course, “normal” is relative term. How normal was I ever really? (This is a rhetorical question, in case you were wondering.) I’ve realized from the day I was diagnosed that my life would never go back it to the “normal” I had before brain cancer. Still, these last six months have felt so…close to normal.

So, I’ve been turning my face to the day, each day, living and loving the everyday things. The swirling cream clouds in my coffee. The dog throwing up in her crate. Helping Marshall out with projects in the office. Traveling to Boston to see my friend Kelly and interview an amazing man, Wesley Harris, about the book I’m still trying to write. Riding the Ferris wheel with dear Hannah at the Buckwheat Festival in West Virginia.

It’s been so wonderful. Each day. So, rather than writing about it, I’ve just been enjoying it. Living it.

But now I’m back to blogging again, because I want to share what we found out after my most recent MRI at the end of September. It showed that my tumor is growing back. My oncologist says it’s “minimal,” which seems to be a word rather like “normal” in that no one really knows what it means. For my oncologist, it means I don’t have to have surgery right now, because the growth is so small. It also means he wants to “wait and watch” for the next six months before starting chemo and/or radiation to see if it grows anymore. But he’s also said this wouldn’t be a bad time for me to get a second opinion.

The news was a huge surprise, and not in a good way, of course. I’m normally an optimist (not to be confused with an optometrist) and I’d been feeling really pretty good, so the MRI results snuck up on me. For a few days, it felt even harder than my original diagnosis, because when I was first diagnosed there was a sense of relief to know, finally, what I was dealing with. And then there was a huge sense of urgency leading towards surgery. There was something to do, a point to drive towards. I figured out what was in my control (sort of) – mostly changing my diet – and marched forward into my craniotomy and recovery.

This time, there’s no urgency – it’s “minimal” and “watch and wait.” While there are a few tweaks I can make to my diet and medication, there’s really not a lot I can change now. There’s just, “go live your life and let us know if you develop any symptoms.”

I’m not a big fan of my oncologist telling me to “go live my life” because for me it implies the added phrase “while you still can, poor dear.” And yet, living my life is what I do and what I need and want to do every day. It is, technically, very good advice.  Just don’t say it to me when you see me because it kind of hacks me off and I might respond with something supremely witty, like “Live this, Budley.” Or worse, something not even remotely witty but awkwardly third-grade, like “Why don’t you just go live YOUR life? Budley.”

So, here’s the deal: I’ve decided to get a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (hey, I can spell Minnesota! I did not know that.). I’m going on November 14thand I’m glad. They’re rated #1 in neurology (shoot, had to use spell check for neurology) and #2 in cancer in the country. And they take my insurance, which, for better or worse, I’ve already maxed out in terms of out-of-pocket expenses for the third year running. So, the consultation will hopefully be “free.”

I feel humbled to the point of tears that I have, this year at least, the financial resources to be able to travel to Mayo to get a second opinion. I am so grateful. And I am mindful of the many, many people who do not have such resources or adequate health insurance. I have never really asked “why me” as to why I have brain cancer – I’m not sure why, it’s just not been a question for me.  But I do ask it with regard to having this extreme advantage of being able to get the best second opinion in the country. I guess the way I actually phrase the question in my head is “why not everyone?”

As a person with brain cancer I believe in universal health care.

Anyway, back to the real point of this post: with regard to this “minimal” tumor growth, I ask for your kind thoughts and prayers and thoughtful acts for all people you know who need them today, near and far. With all my heart I believe that in my own weakness and need there lies the greatest strength – the strength that happens when community rallies and becomes embodied and enlivened and we come to understand on a cellular level that we are all connected and “in this together.” We all live. We all die. We all have physical and emotional pain and needs in between.

No one can live to the fullest alone or separate from the “other.”  Through my illness, I have known what it means to be lifted by the hearts of others, strangers and friends alike. And while I would not have chosen to have cancer, the experience of this love and lifting is like nothing I’ve ever known and is wrapped in the beauty, mystery, and connection of life, the Universe, and Everything. Thank you for your part in this mystery we all share. Please keep those prayers coming.


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Mark Niehaus
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Mark Niehaus

This is challenging news, indeed. You, Marshall and Hannah will be in my prayers during this time of uncertainty. It warms me to read so many loving comments here. Hang in there!

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

Hello, Fran, I am placing you at Christ’s feet tonight in my prayer of love, guidance and healing. I pray that he lifts you up in his beautiful arms of strength and safety and you feel the warmth of his complete healing over you. Love, Rebecca

Tammie
Guest
Tammie

Fran, I kept you in my prayers at Mass today. Hopefully your travel to Minnesota was safe. God bless. Tammie

Mary Susan payne
Guest
Mary Susan payne

Hello Fran,
I saw Hannah’s name flash across the screen several times durung the film festival. She must be so talented and excited to have found her passion. I know you’re so proud of her. I’m sorry to read about your “disappointing” news. I don’t usually curse, but several profane words seem more apt. Prayers continue to come your way, and let me know of less important tasks I can perform. xo

Maria
Guest
Maria

Thinking about you & praying for you, Fran,
Maria

Michelle Parker-Rock
Guest
Michelle Parker-Rock

Glad to hear that you’ll be getting world class attention at the Mayo, Fran. My son is a Perioperative Fellow at the Phoenix campus, and he speaks highly of the state-of-the-art care that each patient receives. Keeping you in my thoughts and sending love for you and yours.

Matt Kingsley
Guest
Matt Kingsley

Fran, as always, I wish you all the best and hope with all of my heart that a good outcome awaits you.

Pat Crawford
Guest
Pat Crawford

My dear Fran…..thanks for giving the glimpse into your continued journey, with your usual wit and candor. Holding you close, as always. Covering you with prayer and love!

Garrett Smith
Guest
Garrett Smith

You’ll be in my prayers, Fran. If there’s ever anything we can do to help, let us know. BTW, I tried a kerogenic diet for a few weeks this summer and loved it but more than that, our Lloyd coached and mentored me through it, and it was a thrill for me to let him lead me! It was the communal aspect and role reversal As well as the fun and flavor of fatty foods!. God bless you.

Peggy
Guest
Peggy

In my prayers, Fran; And thanks for sharing your wisdom. Peace

Anne Carbone
Guest
Anne Carbone

Fran I am praying for strength for you, Marshall and Hannah. Mostly, I am praying for great news on your trip. Sending love.

Pat Alt
Guest
Pat Alt

Hi Fran. It was good to hear from you. I think of you often as I have Mahala’s New Orleans book on my coffee table. Yes, enjoy your normal. I have to ask myself these days, what is normal? Who knows but we must enjoy each day as much as we can. Prayers for you and your journey.

Rosanne Parry
Guest
Rosanne Parry

Oh Fran, I’m so sorry that this has come around again. I’m lighting a candle on my work table for you right now. And since it’s All Saints Day, you know the whole crowd of them will be praying for you too.

Barbara Smith
Guest
Barbara Smith

Continuing keeping you in prayer, Fran.

Liz Jones
Guest
Liz Jones

❤️❤️❤️

Christine Morlino
Guest
Christine Morlino

Sending you love, hope, prayers and strength sweet lady!

Nancy Moore
Guest
Nancy Moore

Fran, so sorry to hear this. I am really glad you are going to Mayo.
Would you like us to take Cookie while you are gone? Remember, our offer was genuine. We’ll get our couch ready for her!

Barbara A Body
Guest
Barbara A Body

Glad to hear that you are getting a second opinion at Mayo!

Chris Schnittka
Guest
Chris Schnittka

I miss you so much! Holding you in my arms across the spance of space and time…

Lisa Thackston
Guest
Lisa Thackston

Sending you much love and many prayers. Please keep us posted on your adventures to the Mayo Clinic and the news they have for you.

Marcy
Guest
Marcy

You are one of the strongest women I know. Healing thoughts and prayers to you

Michelle Richards
Guest
Michelle Richards

Hi Fran, I’m sorry to have lost touch for so long but I just heard and wanted to reach out. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this — sending all my love and positive thoughts. XXOO
P.S. your writing and message is a real gift to us all — thank you for sharing it!

Cary Pugh
Guest
Cary Pugh

Your post is welcome but not your news. Wishing and praying for your peace and continued optimism as you continue this journey.

Maggie Cary
Guest

Sending you good vibes and thousands of positive prayers.

Katy Duffield
Guest
Katy Duffield

I’ve been wondering about you as well, Fran. Please feel me lifting you up in prayer. I’m sorry for this news, but I’m glad you’re headed to Mayo. We are dealing with a devastating health issue with my brother-in-law and he’s seeing a team at Mayo in Jacksonville, Florida. Like you, we are blessed to be able to see the doctors there. I’m praying for you! God has His hands all over this!

Julie
Guest
Julie

I love my Fran….so so touching. I really never understood every word you said so completely as I do after 28 years of nursing and especially in Oncology. This was our tie so many years ago as teenagers…we just connected. And now we see life so differently but yet so similarly. I love you buddy and always here if you need to talk.

Janel Sennewald
Guest
Janel Sennewald

Fran
You and your writing are a cherished gift. Thanks for sharing. Love and prayers and I hope you will find some cozy moments on your medical trip. Love Janel

Susanna Holstein
Guest

Such pleasure in the everyday, we somtimes forget to appreciate it. You remind us. I wondered why you weren’t blogging and hoped it was for the very reasons you’ve explained. So, one more step. Mayo is an excellent choice. I hope you will share what you learn there, and continue to keep your many friends in the loop. And we will continue to pray and send strong energy your way, that this too shall pass.

Ellen Hopkins
Guest
Ellen Hopkins

Sending much love and light and want you to know how much I miss you. I’m glad you’ll be in such good hands in Minnesota. (Hey, I can spell it, too.) Love to your family, too.

Teresa Fannin
Guest

oh, Fran. I have thought of you and wondered, but been busy here after Tom’s spinal cord injury last Thanksgiving, so…. you have our prayers and hopes for the best along with grace and peace. Lucky you, community is an amazing thing!

Pat Laurenz
Guest
Pat Laurenz

So sorry for this news Fran. I have kept you in my daily prayers since your first diagnosis and will continue to do so. I too have felt so lifted by prayers and community support after my accident and surgery in Lithuania. So prayers that you continue to feel lifted up and supported

Lisa Lewis
Guest
Lisa Lewis

Thank you for the update. Thinking of you and sending you positive energy. 🙂

Bridget Casey
Guest
Bridget Casey

Sending lots of healing hugs to you, Fran!

Deb Short
Guest
Deb Short

We all need to live each day, and we all have to struggle with the “waits”… a beautiful reminder, thank you. And many prayers coming your way

Marci Norton
Guest
Marci Norton

I”m glad you’re able to get a second opinion. Safe travels to Minnesota; please let us know what you learn. I’ll be thinking of you often and sending you healing vibes.

Ann Michel
Guest
Ann Michel

Wishing and praying for your peace with the process, Fran. Sorry for your stress with this. Know you are lifted up in love,
Ann

Kelley Weddington
Guest
Kelley Weddington

Hey Cuz!! You are always in my daily prayers and will continue to be!! Love you so very much!

Nancy
Guest
Nancy

Thank you for all you said here. Navigating the journey is so hard sometimes. I’ll be thinking of you as you travel North…

Camille Powell
Guest
Camille Powell

You so indeed have my prayers.

Phil Wotring
Guest
Phil Wotring

Hang in there Fran. We’ll be praying for a good outcome for your “wait and see”.

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