The Cancer Game of Whack-A-Mole

The Cancer Game of Whack-A-Mole

…or what a friend of mine, W.P., calls “nuke-a-mole.” Whack-a-Mole

A lot of you have asked me, “What are your days like?” Well, my days are unpredictable since I don’t control them. I don’t control my body; chemo controls it. No, cancer controls me and chemo is being flooded into my body to control the cancer.

The challenge with chemo is that there are numerous side-effects. Head to toe side-effects.

So my medical team anticipates those (and learns from my reactions every week) and treats them with side-effect medicine. Lots of it! Pills for nausea, behind-the-ear patches, pills for digestion issues, etc.

And then when I read the labels on each of the medicine bottles, THEY have side effects!

  • “This may cause drowsiness.”
  • “Care when operating a vehicle.”
  • “This medicine will lower your ability to fight off infections.”
  • “May cause headache.”
  • “May cause constipation.”
  • “May cause dizziness.”
  • “This medicine may cause blurred vision.”

So what do I do? Just take my meds and roll with the punches. Oh, I layer on all kinds of other good things like acupuncture, chiropractic, strolling, juicing, eating healthy*, and napping.

*Okay, to be honest, I have helped myself to some less-healthy foods like my favorite Cold Stone Ice Cream.

The actual day of chemo is uneventful. I sit there receiving the infusion and Mathis sits in the same room reading or working and chatting with me! We have private rooms with windows, can order in food, play music and dance!

2015-04-20 09.28.392015-04-20 10.04.25

Managing my own expectations has been the biggest challenge.

I’ll sleep a good 12 hours, wake up, get dressed, and have plans for a few errands or going to the gym. But within an hour, chemo says “lie down and shut up!”

While the errands can wait, I do get down. I don’t want to be that fatigued, drugged cancer patient. So I’ve learned to do some guided meditation, listen to music, and just accept that this is a short-term thing. I count my blessings that I’m doing as well as I am through this tough chemo chapter. And, I get to celebrate that I just finished the toughest 8 weeks of chemo, by finishing a round of chemo called “A/C”.  Next chemo is Taxol starting May 4 through July, which should get easier (so they say).

My family and friends have been the best!

If only every cancer patient had the kind of love I have pouring in at all times of the day!

I know I don’t say “Thank you” enough, I don’t send thank-you cards, and I don’t share how much everything you say touches my heart. But it does.

During a recent 4-day trip to Los Angeles, I saw a number of very special friends and was able to spend lots of time with Milo (my twin Tracy’s son), my mom, and Mathis, of course. Friends from high school, college, early professional years cam to visit while I was “holding court” at the Beverly Hilton while Mathis worked in L.A.

DSCN3056Gabrielle, SusanVictoria and Dana

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My Virginia Mason care team has also been incredible. I can reach them any time of day or night, they are helping me physically and emotionally, and they are a part of my family.

In Seattle, I love visits so just yell when it’s a good time. Don’t wait for me to call you…I don’t make too many decisions lately.

IMG_20150408_0907562015-04-12 18.23.42

Shane is visiting from San Francisco this weekend and Chad and Milo are calling to check in all the time!

Party Time! Save the date!

We’re going to celebrate my 55th birthday and near-completion of chemo on Saturday, June 13th from 6pm – 10pm. rfl-logoAppropriately, we’ll be together at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life where we’ll honor cancer survivors, you – our supporters – and we’ll remember my sister Tracy and others who have left us. My team name is “Dana’s Gladiators“.

I’ll be making another announcement about this, but you can go here to do two things:

1)     If you live in the Seattle area, click “join my team” to RSVP that you’ll come to the event-slash-birthday party AND you can also donate, if you wish.

2)      If you don’t live in the Seattle area, then you can share your love and birthday wishes by making a donation.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about my experiences and feelings, just ask!

Love and hugs to everybody! I can’t share my gratitude enough.


8 thoughts on “The Cancer Game of Whack-A-Mole

  1. You are remarkable.
    I send you love and I toast YOUR courage with champagne! YOU are loved sweet Dana. YOU are loved! and as I read your posts it seems like you are surrounded with love.
    I am planning a trip to Seattle – and (God-Willing) if I am able to workout the details, I will get there and we can sit and chat and giggle about so many good times we have shared.
    I send much love to you and your mom and your sweet Mathis this day!

    My faith is strong as I know to the core of my core that God loves this little girl name Dana. He has a plan for her. And so we trust that plan.

    Call, write whenever you can.
    If I am able to get to Seattle we WILL connect.



  2. Dana,Love the “nuke a mole” approach! Glad to hear that the worst chemo is over – that must be a big relief. Also thrilled to hear you are responding well. Have fun with Shane this weekend.   XO Eileen From: Dana’s Cancer Conquest To: Sent: Friday, April 24, 2015 11:58 AM Subject: [New post] The Cancer Game of Whack-A-Mole #yiv6582577633 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6582577633 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6582577633 a.yiv6582577633primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6582577633 a.yiv6582577633primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6582577633 a.yiv6582577633primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6582577633 a.yiv6582577633primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6582577633 | dmanciagli posted: “The Cancer Game of Whack-A-Mole…or what a friend of mine, W.P., calls “nuke-a-mole.” A lot of you have asked me, “What are your days like?” Well, my days are unpredictable since I don’t control them. I don’t control my body; chemo controls it. No, can” | |


  3. I learn so much every time I read one of your posts. About you, cancer, your friends and family. All good stuff. I absolutely love the white hat with the read scarf underneath. I may try that.

    hugs to all


  4. Dana and Mathis–I’m so glad someone else asked about your days and what it is like to “do” chemo. Your description was very useful. I’ve never sat with someone having chemo. I have been with people recovering from chemo and I know it is very hard on everyone. I’m glad you are a warrior. I suspect the worst part of someone as high energy and in command as you are is to not have energy. Rest. As you say it is temporary. Keep taking in the love and support. Your friends don’t like being helpless either.

    And why do I/we wait for cancer to hit a friend before I/we make it a priority to see them? May you inspire me, Dana, to reach out to good old friends.

    Love you. Kathleen


  5. dana….love ya!…you are so much more than “just amazing” ….thank you for all you’re willing to share.
    Thinking of you constantly….Maureen


  6. Dana, so glad Jenn told me about your blog! Not surprised – but as usual impressed and inspired. Thank you for sharing your journey! Nuke those moles!!!
    Nancy & Robert


    • Nancy and Robert, so great to hear from you! There are blog posts more recent than this one and be sure to sign up for the blog to receive updates. Once viewing a blog, scroll down to the bottom to “follow”.

      I’m doing well…getting through it!

      Lots of love,


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