A Day in the Life… My Unpredictable Cancer Days

Great news! I’m past the half way point in my chemo treatments! I have 10 more weeks to go of weekly chemo sessions. I’ll have scans after that and the doctors will determine what’s next. It could be more treatment and we’ll be aggressive!

It’s been quite a roller-coaster ride, but I’m not alone. Mathis has been telling friends that he has a front row “E-ticket” – the ones Disneyland reserved for the most exciting rides. We’re definitely on the Space Mountain rails this time!

Old Disneyland E Ticket

Old Disneyland E Ticket

What are my “Cancer Days” like?

(Chose one, several, all, or none of the following.)

  • Sleeping in until 9 or 10am – I used to get up at 6…
  • Waking up and still feeling exhausted
  • Going to the gym for a light workout
  • Going back to bed for a long nap
  • Running one errand…slowly
  • Eating small quantities throughout the day, ‘cause I’m just not hungry
  • Visiting with friends
  • Going for a walk
  • Writing blog posts for my business and nationally-syndicated column
  • Eating Mathis’ home-cooked dinner
  • Lounging on the sofa until bedtime

I am blessed that I have not had the major side effects I was warned about. And, I get to stop taking the HUGE stack of chemo-related medicine that went with the first batch of chemo. It was quite a large batch of pills, shots and liquids.

2015-05-04 10.38.25

Yes, I’ve been surprised by how tired I get, then I remind myself, “Oh, yeah, it’s chemo.” The doctors say that the fatigue caused by chemo is cumulative so I can anticipate more sleepy days ahead.

My new hobby: Helping other cancer patients and cancer fund-raising

I’ve enjoyed donating my time to two organizations: The American Cancer Society and my hospital, the Virginia Mason Cancer Institute. Recently I recorded a video that was played at a major Virginia Mason fund-raiser for their Cancer Institute; you can watch it here.

Coming up: June 13th! You are invited, no matter where you live! Join me at this year’s American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life to celebrate my birthday and raise money for cancer research. I look forward to seeing as many of my wonderful friends as possible

On August 30, I’ll be out in centerfield wearing my favorite bright green and blue as a Virginia Mason “patient hero” at a Seattle Sounders professional soccer game. So look for the bald head!

Then, of course, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I’ll host a team for the second time at the wonderful Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk by the American Cancer Society. Save the date: Saturday, October 10, 2015. Last year was so wonderful and I would love an even bigger team walking together this year!

0_Mathis, Milo, Dana, Chad

Mathis, Milo, Dana, Chad

Comic relief – on the lighter side

Continuing the theme of what to say or do with cancer patients (see prior blog posts), I have identified a new “family” of gawkers. Yes, those who stare at my bald head. They’re everywhere and I understand it…a bald woman stands out, for sure.

Let me describe them for you:

  1. The stare-then-smiler. This person stares. Then, when we make eye contact, and they realize they’ve been busted, they smile at me. A classic example is of those boarding an airplane, walking down the aisle, and staring at me. I look up from my seat and they are surprised to make eye contact so they smile! It’s nice. Keep smiling!
  2. The long distance gawker. This person stares for long periods of time from a distance. They appear so shocked that they don’t know I see them gawking. Happened at the gym: a person on the other side of the gym, sitting on a weight machine, and doing nothing but staring at me! Great form of exercise, eh?
  3. The shocked child. We all know that children speak the truth. Period. So they point and ask questions. Recently a mother was walking her 4-year old daughter around our neighborhood. The daughter stopped, pointed at me, and asked her mom, “Why doesn’t she have any hair?” Her mom just looked at me imploring me to answer her. Mathis was with me and I totally fumbled the answer. I said, “I lost my hair with a medical treatment.” Yeah, right. As if she would understand that. Since then I am still stumped as to what to tell a child or her mom. What would you say? Please reply with your recommendation in Facebook or on my blog.

Quotes of the Day:

My mom, Ilse, just sent me a T-shirt that says:


It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. It’s not what you see, it’s how you look at it. It’s not how your life is, it’s how you live it.


And my sister, Lynn, just shared this:


that have sent me best wishes or other promises of good luck,


so could you please just send me cash, vodka, chocolates, wine or airline tickets instead?

Thank you!


Thank you, friends and family!

I can’t express enough gratitude for everybody’s incredible support and positive energy. I thought, by now, it would get “quiet.” But, no, the visits, cards, phone calls, e-mails, Facebook comments, texts, and more, just keep flowing in from near and far. I assure you that every touch makes a huge difference.

Loads of hugs and love,




25 thoughts on “A Day in the Life… My Unpredictable Cancer Days

  1. Dana great thoughts and you are rocking it in the photo! Great smile and great picture. I would tell the mother and daughter the following, “I have cancer and the medicine I’m using to make me better causes my hair to fall out. But don’t worry, it save me time in the morning drying my hair and I don’t need as much shampoo!”

    You should try some sun on that noggin, even if it’s fake! Lori had a very beautiful tanned bald head during treatment and you have a very beautiful head as well!

    Joe White


  2. You are an inspiration!
    Love the grace and positive attitude you bring to everything you face

    I love seeing Chad because he looks like you and naturally my heart warms with gratitude of our friendship


  3. Love your blog and always learning from you Dana. Your photo is terrific. That a tough one–what to tell a kiddo. Guess I’d say “I got sick and had to take some strong medicine that hurt my hair but I’ll be better soon and the hair will come back.”
    Thanks for being an inspiration.
    Love, Kay


  4. You are my heroine, girl. Not to mention that you look totally gorgeous! I so wish that I could be there with you. Love to you and my darling Mathis. xoxoxo


  5. Love your posts….your voice shines through so clearly and gives me smiles thinking of those days when we were right across the hall and spoke daily.

    CONGRATULATIONS on passing the halfway point. Huge milestone. I know there is a lot ahead of you – but you are so incredibly strong with an inspiring attitude!

    I am thinking of you and hoping that you continue to find your humor, joy, and encouragement on this journey – even on those very exhausting and perhaps dark moments when it can feel overwhelming. Keep kicking cancer’s ass!!

    Lots of love to you friend!!



  6. Dana, what a blessing to have your blog. Truly beautiful, as are you.

    I forwarded your video to my entire company on Podio.

    Regarding “a four year old’s comments”….I can only relate a story about Tiffany (our now 31! year old daughter!!!) when she was about that age. (She sends her love by the way)

    The Crawley’s had just moved from San Francisco/East Bay to Orange County, and Tiffany and Linda and I had just landed at John Wayne Airport for the big move.

    This was the old days, so the airport luggage return was actually outside and toward the street. The luggage carousel was right next to a huge, 12 foot statue of John Wayne, I might add.

    Standing around the carousel, were people like us (caucasian) and certainly an equal number of people of color. Tiffany was somewhat familiar with diversity, but, not to any great degree. However, it really shocked us when she started pointing in the direction of an african-american man and loudly stating….”Mommy! Look at the chocolate man, look at the chocolate man!!!”

    You can imagine our tremendous embarrassment as we tried to quiet Tiffany. It wasn’t until about five minutes later that we realized she was not talking about an actual person, but, rather the bronze statue of John Wayne. To her, it looked very much like a large chocolate man, very much like the chocolate bunny she had received & eaten that Easter.

    No WONDER she was excited!

    So, my comment is regarding that beautiful little girl who asked her mom about your hair…Don’t worry a bit about it. She probably followed up with 100 questions about the color of grass, why do people wear shoes, why does she have to hold hands in the mall and so forth. Smile




    • John, thank you so much for the great letter. I love the story about the chocolate man. You are so thoughtful and caring, John (and Linda) and I appreciate the funny note here. I’ll call you soon! Had a “fatigue” day today but I’m powering through this well. Then radiation after this in Aug-Sept-into early October.


  7. You really get stuff done Dana and you do with great enthusiasm and dedication and style. You own that t-shirt! (Nice one Ilse!). Hugs to all of you…


  8. Dana
    Meg forwarded me this site. I am happy she did. I am sending you love and best wishes for your complete healing.


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