hi there · just do it already · scary · weekend report

My Breast Cancer

Nobody likes to talk about it but it is out there. The C word. Cancer.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and I thought I would share my experience to help people going through it. Maybe to help them with the steps, or feelings, or advice, or questions.

Sometimes I treat this blog as my diary. Sometimes I think of it as a way to get good information about things I have experienced. Most of my experiences have been quite enjoyable with traveling and eating! But this latest experience has not been so enjoyable but I thought my story could maybe help someone who is in this situation. So here, is my breast cancer story.

First of all, I live in Spain, Mallorca to be exact, so my experience is with Spanish medical professionals. Sometimes things are done differently in other countries, just in case you think it might have the exact same procedure in the USA, for example.

I had a mammogram (one of MANY) in November 2021. I actually hadn’t had one for about two years because of being lazy (not recommended) and COVID (not recommended either). Ha, see no need to always be so serious! And in Mallorca the patient usually picks up the report from the hospital and takes it to the doctor for them to review. Well, I read the results (they were in Spanish) and I thought everything seemed okay, like my past results. So I dragged my feet a bit to getting back to my gynecologist (Dr. Raas – thank you!) to show it to him. Well, when I did finally go back a few months later he told me that they found something with the mammogram and why did I wait so long to get back to him!? Well, I was a bit angry with myself and nervous. I was told to get another mammogram for them to look closer at the suspicious area. I did and when it was finished the nurse told me to wait while she spoke with the doctor. She came out a few minutes later and confirmed that yes, there was something there. But she said it may only be fibroids (non-cancerous growths) but I needed a biopsy next to confirm what this was. This really put my head spinning into nervousness.

Next up. Biopsy. Let me just be straight up about this. It was not fun. I had googled breast biopsy many times just to make sure I knew what was going to happen. I don’t always have an English speaking doctor when I go in, my Spanish isn’t horrible but I needed to make sure what was going to happen during the biopsy.

And I need to back up a little bit. Most patients can get a biopsy in their gynecologist’s office because the gynecologist can see the area with ultrasound. This was not the case for me. My gynecologist could never find my tumor because it was non-palpable, it wasn’t this solid mass. So because of this I had to have my biopsy done with the mammogram machine with the doctor being able to see it with the computer and knowing exactly where the needle needed to go.

So, the biopsy. I sat in a chair next to the mammogram machine where my breast was squished in the machine. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. The doctor numbed it a bit but definitely not enough. I don’t know if this is normal for Spain but it was painful. A long needle is inserted into the breast to the area they need to take the sample from. Once the needle is in, another “pincher” is inserted to take the sample. This lasted a few minutes. I was stuck in the mammogram machine and trying not to hyperventilate and pass out. The doctor was trying to take my mind off the pain by asking me questions but I could only give short answers. Finally, it was over. I didn’t cry! But damn, not fun.

My breast was very bruised and sore for over a week.

Now it was waiting time for results. Again. Thankfully we had family coming in town for a big birthday celebration and that took my mind off things.

But then the results showed that yes, it was cancer.

Lots of things flooded my brain when it was confirmed. Places I still needed to see, experiences I still wanted to do, friends and family that I don’t see nearly often enough. But I put positive thoughts in my head and told myself that I would beat this and be strong.

Back to the gynecologist to discuss the results. It showed that it was both estrogen positive and progesterone positive (which means the cancer grows in response to those hormones). But we still needed to wait for the HER2 result, which is a growth-promoting protein that’s on the outside of all breast cells.

Now I had been doing some googling to get some answers and maybe more questions to ask my doctor and I saw that a triple positive or a triple negative are the most aggressive type of breast cancers. So I was keeping things crossed that my HER2 result would be negative. And lucky for me it was. So that was one good moment for me during this time.

Next up was a CAT scan, to help see better where the non-palpable tumor was located. Plus more blood tests and finally it was time to schedule the surgery.

So again, my gynecologist can’t see my tumor on an ultrasound machine so I needed a little more help from the nuclear radiation department. I needed the Radioguided occult lesion localization (ROLL), which is a relatively new method to localize and orientate the excision of non-palpable breast lesions.The day of the surgery I had to get nuclear radioactive dye injected into the tumor area. It involved the injection of a small amount of nuclear radiotracer under guidance by ultrasonography which helps the surgeons make sure they are getting all of the cancer removed. After getting the dye injected I had to wait in the hospital for about an hour while massaging my breast to help the dye work its way into the area fully. Then when my nuclear medicine doctor (Dr. Cristina at Juaneda – thank you!) said ok the dye is in the area, I drove to the hospital where the surgery would be done.

If you know Mallorca, I can recommend the hospital PalmaPlanas. All of the appointments needed – CAT scan, mammogram, biopsy, etc have been done there. They were always very professional and kind. So I parked in the parking lot and checked myself into the hospital. My room was a private room with a sofa bed if Felix wanted to spend the night. A sweet younger team of three came to take my blood pressure, ask a few questions and gave me that sexy hospital gown. About an hour later a guy showed up with a hospital bed and wheeled my down to prep for surgery.

I received an IV in my arm and waited with about 15 other people who were in the room either waiting for surgery or had just finished with surgery and the staff were waiting for them to wake up to take back to their room. One guy was full on snoring. Loud as could be. That put a smile on my face while I waited. I was a little nervous and very cold. They kept the room freezing so someone brought me a blanket. And then it was time.

I was wheeled into the surgery room where my Dr. Raas was waiting for me. There were also my nuclear medicine doctor, my doctor’s assistant, the anesthesiologist and a few nurses preparing things. Everyone was very calming. And then the anesthesiologist put me out. During the surgery (which was about 3 hours), they removed the cancer area from my breast and also some lymph nodes from my left armpit. They then sent those to the lab in the hospital to find out if they got everything or needed to cut/take out more. The lab said they couldn’t detect anything around the edges and the lymph nodes were clear. So I was stitched up and woke back up in the recovery room and then wheeled back to my room where Felix was waiting for me. I was so relieved for the surgery to be over.

Soon after Felix left for McDonalds. 🙂 I took a pill that they gave me to help me sleep and I did until 10 pm when they brought me dinner. I hadn’t had anything to eat for about 24 hours and the ham and cheese sandwich with a side of fruit looked like the best thing I’ve had in years. I scarfed it down, sent Felix a message and was back asleep until breakfast was served at 7 am. A nurse came in an hour later to give me more acetaminophen for the pain (in the IV) and then Felix came back at 11 for us to wait for the doctor to give me the ok to go home. Dr. Raas showed up, looked at the stitched up areas, changed the dressing on them and said I could go home if I wanted. I laughed and said does anyone want to stay? He nodded emphatically and I could only think of lonely people who wanted more time to be taken care of.

As soon as we got home I crawled into bed and took a three hour nap. Felix came to check on me since I had been asleep for so long and I slowly got out of bed. I took some more pain medicine (acetaminophin) but the pain was manageable, thank goodness. I was worried about that, I didn’t want to be in lots of pain and I only took pain medicine for about two more days. I needed to wear a sports bra day and night, even when sleeping. It was annoying but I tolerated it. During the day I wore one of Felix’s button down shirts which he would help me into and out of. So thankful that he was there and calming and helpful.

Next was the wait for the in-depth lab report to let us know if everything had been removed. It took about three weeks but when Dr. Raas called and told me that the margins were clear a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Plus a few tears as well. This was all such a stressful time and to hear that I was in the clear was a relief.

Still not done with things though. Now I needed to meet with the oncologist to decide what kind of treatment would be best for me – hormone therapy (HR), radiation and/or chemotherapy. He thought HR and radiation was the way to go. I started tamoxifeno 20 mg which I will be taking for up to seven to ten years. No noticeable side effects.

Finally, radiation was finished last week. After meeting with my radiation oncologist, she said that the 5 day radiation treatment would be best. This is a somewhat new way of doing radiation, instead of the 15 day treatment. I still get the same amount of radiation but in 5 days, not 15 and the results seem to be the same if not better. I had to get my radiation tattoos, four tattoos that ensure the radiation machine does the treatment in exactly the right place, every time. My doctor gave me some cream which I put on after every treatment. My breast was a bit red and tender and near the end I was pretty tired but by the next week I was feeling fine. So thankfully no horrible side effects from that either.

And that’s it. I will continue to meet with my oncologist and get regular mammograms and hopefully thanks to the advancement of science I will live a long cancer free life. If needed I will edit this for future things or write a different blog post.

I want to thank the doctors and staff and especially all of my friends and family for their love, support, messages, flowers. I would not have been as strong as I was without you all by my side.

And please remember to get your checkup! Do that breast self-exam (men too!), get that mammogram, get that colonoscopy. Take care of yourself and stay healthy.

Sending love and light.

covid · Europe · just do it already · planet · save our world · scary · sickly · tragic

Hey, EU, How About Those Vaccines?

I have been quite patient. I really have. But as the days tick by with this complete vaccine fiasco here in the EU, I am getting angry. And I’m not the only one. What the hell is going on? We aren’t getting any answers just more restrictions, another lockdown, more negative news. Hey I have an idea. How about instead of spending all your time on new restrictions, why don’t you figure out how to speed up the vaccinations? Smart, right?


The U.S. is vaccinating people left and right! My parents who are 75 and over are vaccinated. Hallelujah! My brother, my sister-in-law, my friends in TX, NY, OR, CA, OK, KS are vaccinated! Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy for them. Some were very emotional to be vaccinated and even more so with their parents being vaccinated.

And the EU? I live in Mallorca. Armengol is our Balearic President and she just makes me laugh more and more ever day. But not happy laughter, more like maniacal laughter. Everything she says and does just gets worse and worse. The vaccines? Only 4% of our population in Mallorca has been vaccinated. This started in December! And here we are in April with only 4% vaccinated. Lord help us. They started with people in elderly homes and hospital staff. I read a report yesterday that “a record number of people” were vaccinated last week. Who knows what this “record number” is, but I’m sure it’s not much. I know a few people who have received theirs, they are doctors and some teachers. But the grandparents are still waiting. We are still waiting.

In Germany, it’s the same. My parents-in-law are over 75 and have no news when a vaccine will be available to them. It’s so frustrating for them, for us, for the family members who so desperately want to get together.

It’s not like the vaccines are “new” anymore. These have been available since the end of 2020. And here we are, starting the fourth month of 2021 with nobody doing anything to help the situation. Get your act together EU! What are you doing? Here is the latest as of March 13, 2021.

And every day there is a new regulation. Last week it was face masks at the beach. Even if you have enough distance to be safe. And then two days later it was overturned. They open the restaurants, the next week they close the restaurants. We were able to have an Easter paella at 3pm (because all restaurants close at 5pm) outside (because all indoor seating is closed) with about 75 other people all in close contact. While if the restaurants were open longer, for actual dinner, it most likely wouldn’t be as crowded because there are more times for people to go. And let’s not forget that our lovely Balearic President, Armengol, was caught a few months ago for drinking at a bar after closing hours. breaking her own laws that she is enforcing.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that Germans could fly here for Easter holidays but Spaniards from the mainland CANNOT. WHAT?!? People are getting tired of this rigmarole and Mallorca is going to lose all those tourists they are so badly wanting, needing. Greece is ready for you, tourists!

Even the WHO has said this is a serious problem. “The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alarm on Europe’s “unacceptably slow” rollout of COVID-19 vaccines as it warned of a “worrying” surge in coronavirus infections.”

EU what can you do? I don’t know but maybe ask the U.S. for money or how they are doing it so quickly. To the so called leaders of the EU, do the job you were hired to do. Because at the moment all we are seeing is failure.

I know that Covid is real. I believe in science and I am very thankful for all of the frontline people who have been working so hard and putting their lives on the line to fight this. I have been following protocol since day one, I think masks are important, social distancing is important but VACCINATING your people is extremely important as well. EU we are waiting. And not patiently anymore.

Do your job.

england · kate middleton · london · paris · scary · the royals · tragic · weird

August 31, 1997

What were you doing August 31, 1997? I remember exactly where I was the day Princess Diana died. I was a bit obsessed with Diana. Guess I still am. My mom had this picture book of her in glorious outfits, meeting orphaned children and some of the princes, William and Harry. I must have looked through that book at least a hundred times.

Which is why I can picture myself exactly when I found out the news about her tragic death. I was on a vacation with my girlfriends (my Dallas roommate, Nancy and her friends) in San Diego, CA. God that was a fun trip. I remember beach and keg stands. Yeah, good times.

And then we came back to our hotel room, turned on the TV and heard the news. Princess Di killed in a high speed car crash in Paris, by the paparazzi that you knew would end her life in one way or another. And I took a picture of the TV –


That is how the picture came out with this freaky red all around it. It thought it was kinda weird. RIP Princess Di. You are missed but never forgotten.

new orleans · Quirky · Road Trip · scary · tragic · usa · weird

Dine With A Ghost

You know there are TONS of ghosts in NOLA. Ghosts, voodoo, spirits, you name it, they got it. Some stories are down right scary and some are a bit, hmmmmm, not so sure about that one – skinned rolled back to look like a caterpillar?? You can take the stories with a grain of salt or you can fully believe or you can relax enjoy the ride and who knows! Maybe you will feel a cold hand on your shoulder or take a picture and when you look at it later you do see some kind of apparition. I believe in ghosts. One day I will tell my ghost story.

I think the ghosts tours are pretty much the same no matter which company you choose. We saw people on other ghost tours and they were all stopping at the same places we did. Now you MUST read this in a spooky and sinister voice.

Here are the stops we made:

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum – In 1823, Louis Dufilho became America’s first licensed pharmacist and opened his apothecary shop on Royal St. But he is not the one haunting this place, that would be Dr. Dupas. The mysterious Dupas bought the pharmacy from Dufilho right before he died. According to legend, Dupas did many experiments on pregnant women and slaves. It was said, you would go in healthy, and never be seen again. It seems, he was conducting experiments on people upstairs, giving them large doses of his voodoo medicine. He is usually seen in a brown suit and likes to move potions around on the shelves and sometimes throws a book. I had a strange experience there while trying to take a picture of the inside. My phone did over 60 photo bursts, I’ve looked through them and maybe I see something near the back in the middle, but I’m not sure. What do you see?

pharmacy ghost

Zach Bowen/Omni Hotel – Zach Bowen joined the military to support his wife and two children. He did a tour in Kosovo and a tour in Iraq (parts of which were spent at Abu Ghraib), where friends say he changed. Upon return he became a bartender in the French Quarter of New Orleans and soon after he separated from his wife. He met Addie Hall, a fellow bartender and the two of them liked to party – drinking a lot and doing cocaine. Also, Hall was said to be a mean drunk and abusing Bowen. Hurricane Katrina hit and they were one of the few who stayed and weathered out the storm. Many people said that going back to “real life” after the tragedy of Katrina was their downfall. On Oct. 5, 2006, they got into a fight (Hall claimed he was cheating on her) and Bowen strangled Hall to death before cutting her up into pieces. He placed her head in a pot on the stove, her feet and legs were either in other pots or in the oven where he tried to cook the body parts. During the next two weeks he spray painted messages on the walls, wrote his five page suicide note and went out drinking, getting strippers and doing drugs with friends. Late October he went to the Omni Hotel, had a drink and then threw himself out of an upstairs window where he landed on the roof of a parking garage. Police found the suicide note and where to find Hall’s body. Some claimed he had been possessed by a demonic spirit that was terrorizing them from the voodoo shop that was below their home. Was it that? Was it PSTD from his two tours overseas? We will never know. But there are still claims that people see someone jump from the Omni Hotel window. The police will show up but there is never anyone there.

Muriel’s Restaurant – Here you can dine with a ghost. The restaurant that is now Muriel’s went through many changes, owners, etc. On March 21, 1788, the Great New Orleans Fire started on Good Friday and burned 856 of the 1,100 structures in the French Quarter, and one of these was a portion of Pierre Phillipe de Marigny’s mansion that was burnt. During the next decade the city was trying to rebuild and Mr. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan purchased the property from Marigny. We will call him Antoine from now on (why did they all have such loooooong names back then). Antoine LOVED his home but he was a huge gambler. In 1814 he wagered his home in a poker game and lost. He was devastated and before vacating the premises he went up to the second floor and hung himself. Supposedly he haunts the second floor – he can be seen as a bright glimmering light. In the past he would throw wine glasses off tables, but ever since the restaurant set up his own table, leaving bread and a bottle of wine (he prefers Cabernet) every night the “tantrums” have diminished. You can have a private dinner with Antoine but you need to call Muriel’s to set it up. Whether or not Antoine will show up, it is still one helluva a good promotion.

The Ursuline Convent – I thought this place was truly freaky. Here is where vampires arrived from the Old World to the New World. This three-story Colonial masterpiece (no nuns live here now) sits behind a high wall with gothic gates and a big courtyard. In 1727,  France sent young women (very poor and possibly homeless) to help populate the city of New Orleans. When the girls arrived they came with casket shaped boxes supposedly holding their belongings and both (the girls and the casket boxes) were placed at the Convent for the nuns to watch over them until they found a husband for them to marry. Thereby earning them the name of the Casket Girls. After they arrived the mortality rate skyrocketed – because what was in those caskets were vampires. Once the girls found suitors the caskets were opened and were found empty. Dum dum Duuummmmmm. Fear of what had escaped from those caskets brought the Archdiocese to the convent. He had them immediately moved to the third floor, where to this day unless you are from the Vatican you cannot go up there. Plus, the shutters are continuously closed. And on top of that they have closed them with 800 screws EACH, that supposedly the Pope blessed. That’s 8000 Pope blessed screws keeping whatever needs to be kept in there! But locals have witnessed the shutters fly open in the middle of the night. I could stop there, but there is one more story to this. Back in the 70s a group of paranormal researchers came to NOLA to check out the convent. Two stayed overnight, in front of the convent to finish their research. The next day they were found dead, and drained of their blood. Drained of their blood!! Now, nothing can be found on the news about this from the 70s but the people in New Orleans say it happened.


Alright, finalizing things up. If you watch American Horror Story you might have heard about this last one, or at least about the lady – Madame Delphine Lalaurie.

The Lalaurie Mansion – This haunted history is perhaps New Orleans most famous ghostly tale. For more than 150 years, the Lalaurie House is said to be the most haunted location in NOLA. Delphine married her third husband, wealthy doctor Louis Lalaurie in 1832. They threw lavish parties and everyone wanted to be invited inside their gorgeous three story mansion. People started wondering about all the slaves that were being bought – they saw them go in but never saw any go out. Once in 1833, a neighbor saw Delphine chase her 12-year old slave around the roof with a whip. The child jumped to her death and was buried in the courtyard. Investigators came to the house and punished Delphine with a fine and making her sell all her slaves. Unbeknownst to authorities she had relatives buy them and she got them back. In 1834 the truth came out. A fire was started in the kitchen by her cook who was chained to the stove. When authorities came they found a very grisly scene in attic – slaves chained to the walls, badly scarred and starving. It gets worse. Reports say one man had a hole drilled into his head with a wooden spoon sticking out (to stir the brains), another woman had her arms amputated and her skin rolled down making her look like a caterpillar, a woman with her stomach cut open and her intestines wrapped around her body and another had her arms and legs broken and reset so she looked like a crab. Horrifying! Gives me the creeps. After finding this an angry mob grew outside the Lalaurie mansion, soon Delphine and her children came roaring out in a carriage and Delphine was never seen again. Some say she died in France, some say she is buried in a New Orleans cemetery. After we left, Jeannie told me she had felt a very cold breeze go by her. Here is where most people do feel something or see something.

Spoooky stuff right there. And even if you don’t believe, it is still some fascinating stories. Next time I think I will do the vampire tour. Do you have any ghost stories? I would love to hear them. BOO.