Recommended: My Book Reviews

I occasionally write reviews on Goodreads. When I have new ones I’ll post a link of my recommended books here.

The Future of Recommended Books

There has been a discussion around the blog-sphere concerning author quid pro quo marketing that leaves readers questioning whether they can trust reviews.

These are legitimate (a word here that means “justified”, in case you are a Republican representative from Missouri) concerns. I myself do not trust the big book seller’s starred reviews anymore.

My end-run is to build a list of reviewers whose opinions I trust. I typical start at Goodreads to see what my friends are reviewing/reading.

The more venues you peruse the more likely it is that you will find reviewers whose opinions you can respect and trust. Some of my favorite reviews come from these bloggers, publications or websites:

Diane Prokop

The Rumpus

NPR

Lithub

I don’t read much science fiction or fantasy so it’s especially import for me to trust the reviewers opinion. These guys are funny too.

Elitist Book Reviews

 

Another Wicked Good Report: Yawn…

Is this getting boring? OF COURSE NOT!!! Who could get tired of hearing their health is improving? I can’t imagine ever taking my progress for granted. I’m beyond grateful for the people and drugs that are extending my life expectancy.

Two weeks ago I underwent another round of CT’s and a brain MRI…nothing in there of course. Can’t tell you how many times I heard that joke last week.

The CT showed more decreases, and/or stability in the remaining tumors-those are mostly the bone lesions. The decreases mostly soft tissue, like the lungs, and liver.

In other news, my clinical coordinator told me the trial sponsor has decided to forgo the second phase of the study, and jump right to phase three. That is spectacular news. It means patients in the first phase of the study (ME!) are doing so well they are willing to take the financial risk of funding the double blind study.

And guess what? The arm they decided has the best potential for success is the one I am in! FYI: an arm is the combination of drugs being tested. I’m in the phase one study of the drug DGC-0077 which has 6 arms. I am in arm E, taking a combination of palbociclib, fulvestrant, and the GDC-0077.

That is an incredible boost of confidence in the particular drug combination I am taking. It’s especially exciting to my team since I happen to be the only one in this arm at MGH. My team will also be taking part in the phase three trial.

Another milestone, I have reached the 6-month mark which means I get to drop down to one clinic visit a month. I’ll still have testing (CT, MRI) every other month, but no more lab/nurse/doctor visit on day 15.

Other than a few annoying side effects, like my fingernails breaking off at the nail bed…ouch, not much else is going on. My hair still thins about once a month but I don’t seem to be losing all of it. The mouth sores are under control so long as I don’t indulge in things overly acidic, or spicy. My sense of taste comes and goes which can be disheartening but is tolerable.

What’s tolerable is way of life on sooo many levels these days. But I’ll gladly take tolerable for another ten, fifteen years at least.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Love you all.


Stealing My Doctor’s Thunder

I had a CT scan two weeks ago but circumstances caused a schedule problem, and I wasn’t able to see my oncologist until today. They hate when that happens because it means test result are released before I see him. I assured my team that I wouldn’t over react, when I read the results, and I didn’t. I might have got slightly emotional, but that was it.

Today, when Dr. Juric walked in all smiles, I completed stole his thunder when I blurted out I’d read the report. However, I am not a medical professional, and while I knew the results were good, I didn’t know how good. He got to tell me that part.

“It’s a major change. It couldn’t be better.”

I’ll never tire of hearing that. And I hope I don’t have to for a good long while.

We didn’t have a long talk about specifics, other than some lesions are completely gone, others are significantly reduced.

As I saw the other team members they were all smiles. Nothing is more reassuring than a bunch of smiling happy medical professionals congratulating you.

He asked if I was happy. I told him if he’s happy, I’m happy, and he was very, very, happy.

So, Happy, Happy, Holidays to Everyone!

WriNoes Do NaNo 2019

Hello intrepid WriNoShores!

We have made it through two fifths of the month, so far so good! Several of you have crossed the halfway mark, congratulations. A lot of you are somewhere between the daily goal and 10k…me for one. And, I noticed a few of you stagnating in the weeds. What’s up writer friends?

It is hard to get going some years. Life interrupts with its endless demands on your attention, work calls, children get sick, you lose interest. It’s all okay. This event is fun, and we sometimes take it seriously, but it’s not life and death. It is not crucial to your well being. Do not stress about not getting your word count in this year, there’s always next year, or this spring…Hello Camp Wrino! If you’ve only managed a few thousand word, well that’s more than you started with, hooray you!

And your writing isn’t tied to NaNoWriMo. It’s yours. You can pick it up and drop it when ever you need or want to. We are here all year, not just for November. January through October, four times a month the WriNoShore’s get together to support each other’s writing time. The second, and fourth Tuesdays with me in Haverhill, and the first, and third Sunday’s with Julia in Beverly.

Don’t let November be the only time you find the magic of writing. Make a commitment to yourself and your creative spirit to come write with us. Or carve out your own time, even if it is only once a week for an hour or two. Get yourself out of the house or office, wherever you spend your time, and get a fresh perspective. Find a coffee shop a few towns over. A library you’ve never been too. A bench in the park, a waiting room in a hospital, a hotel lobby. Any place you can sit undisturbed and have some personal time to pursue your passion.

Back to this year…I’m falling behind my word count and that’s okay. I’m really enjoying my story and the research. I’m not quite so competitive anymore and don’t have the overwhelming drive to come in first in the word count (incoming whine…not that you can easily see who is ahead anymore with the new website).

I’m happy to be toiling away in the company of my fellow writers. Loving the variety of stories and cast of character that we are. And though it is still early, I’m looking forward to the TGIO and Reading on December 1st.

The Kick-Off Party and All-Night All-Write were a blast. Thank you to everyone who participated and supported those endeavors.

As promised here are the three beverages I developed for our cocktail hour this year.

The 2019 All-Night All-Night Cocktail Recipes

These recipes were developed for the 2019 All-Night, All-Write. George, a rock hound was the jumping off point for thinking about drinks. Then I poured over websites and books looking for literary themed drinks titles. I had a few things in mind then had a conversation with Cyd.

Cyd’s Pen Pal

Cyd, who was joining us for the first time this year, mentioned liking Jack Daniel’s, and its connection to mining country. Hence, I was inspired to utilize whiskey and bourbon. I was also looking to use Averna, an amaro, since I’d used an amaro last year and wanted to try this one.

This is my rif on a Pen Pal, found here…https://punchdrink.com/recipes/pen-pal/

1 serving

1 1/2 oz Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

3/4 oz dry vermouth

3/4 oz Averna Amaro Siciliano

Add ingredients to a mixing glass, add ice and stir to chill.

Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. 

Garnish with a strip of lemon zest.

Crash Of WriNoes

Paul was reading about rhinoceri and mentioned that a group of them is called a crash. Since the WriNoes “crash” at our house for the All-Night, this drink was born. It is my rif on this Cold Toddy… https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/cold-toddy

8 servings

2 med oranges, remove zest from 1 orange w/vegetable peeler, and juice (should be 1/4c)

5-6 med lemons, zest 1 lemon w/vegetable peeler, juice enough lemons to make 1 cup juice

3, 3” cinnamon sticks

6 tea bags (I used cinnamon apple chamomile, you can use an English Breakfast, Earl Grey, even a Lemon Ginger)

15 whole cloves

2/3 cup maple syrup

1 3/4 c cold water

2c rye whiskey or bourbon 

1 tsp orange or reg bitters

Cut 2nd orange into slices and cut in half for garnish.

Place zest in a small saucepan. Whack cinnamon sticks with the side of a chef’s knife to break up, add to saucepan with tea bags, cloves, and 1 3/4 cups water. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat; let sit 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, then stir in maple syrup; let cool completely, about 20 minutes.

Strain tea mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher and add rye/bourbon, bitters, and reserved orange juice and lemon juice. Add 2 cups ice and stir until ice is melted and toddy is very cold.

Pour toddy into Collin’s glasses filled with ice and garnish with 1/2 orange wheel.

Smooth as Satin

My third cocktail is a thank you to my self-proclaimed, personal driver, Satin. I  developed this homage to her qualities, something smooth, a little sweet, earthy, with a hint of tart. Originally a ginger ale and ginger syrup concoction I tailored this to be more alcohol less fizz, with an earthy nutmeg rather than ginger.

1 serving

2oz Bourbon

2 oz Goya Pear Nectar

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 oz nutmeg simple syrup (see recipe below)

Combine bourbon, pear nectar, lemon juice, and simple syrup, in shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain over ice in rocks glass. Garnish with pear slice.

Nutmeg Honey Simple Syrup

1/2 c honey/

1/2 cup cold water

Whole nutmeg (never previously ground)

Combine water and honey in small saucepan, bring to simmer stirring until honey dissolves. Remove from heat. Grate about 1/4 of a whole nutmeg into the syrup and let steep 20min. Strain through a coffee filter or fine sieve. Refrigerate.

I’ve Been Holding Out

Last week I had a CT but didn’t get the results until today. However, I’ve been holding out on you. I also visited my eye doctor.

With tears in her eyes she showed us (Jen and I) the scans. No fluid, no cancer. Whoa!

It was hard to not extrapolate that to mean the remaining cancer could have been similarly affected. It was hard to not tell everyone the good news, but I didn’t want to have to temper that a week later with a more sobering report.

NO SUCH PROBLEM!!!

My oncologist’s exact words today were “I couldn’t be any happier with the results.”

According to their metrics, the regression was 1.3% away from being considered a “major” change. This seemed to be slightly unexpected, and very much celebrated by the team.

They will never tell you what outcomes they expect other than generalities and ranges because everyone is different. Nor will they say what more I can surmise from this progress. But, they did confess, it wouldn’t be unrealistic for me to see a continuation of this regression.

I’ll take it.

The crappy stuff, the incredibly awful mouth sores, will be treated with a steroid rinse. It’ll be a while before I can tell if that helps. Of course that cure has its own side effect too-candida. Not great, but a yeast infection in my mouth versus open sores, is a no brainer.

Overall, the last few weeks have been going very well. I’ve had energy and been able to do everything I wanted with minimal side-effect interference.

It was the mouth sore that finally put a damper on my appetite and sense of taste. Only the unpredictable diarrhea is the true buzz kill.

As will always be the case, the end of week two/beginning of week three in the cycle will bring a drop in my WBC, platelets, and energy. Today is day twenty two so my levels should start to go up over the next week.

And so you know I’m not all talk, once I got permission, I got my flu shot.

Next CT is the day before Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Besides the obvious pharmaceuticals, it is you all that I’m most grateful for.

You have kept me laughing, cried with me, hugged me, worried about me, made terrible jokes, and spent many hours driving me to and fro.

I love you all.

Lynne

But, I Feel Better!

Darn, I was supposed to start cycle two today but my white blood cell count and neutrophils are too low, though they are slightly up from last week. Protocol, however is the boss here so I’ll be off the palbociclib for another week (a cycle is 4 weeks, palbo is 3 weeks on, one week off, GDC is everyday all 4 weeks, and Fulvestrant is 1x a month on 1st day of cycle).

The concern now is this screws up the timing of the next cycle and those that follow. But, that isn’t my problem to solve so while the research staff figures out how to rectify the situation, and juggles my appointment schedule, I shall regale you with tales of the last few weeks.

Side-Effects Strike Back

Side-effects have come to plague me since I last wrote. Some worse than others. Intestinal distress has struck (without warning…fun) but we seem to have found a measure of control between the Imodium and not eating too much at once. That’s pretty easy since I don’t have much of an appetite anyway.

A mouth sore that had been torturing me for two weeks has completely healed. I lost my sense of taste, but that has returned to about 70% since being off the palbo for the last week. I’m guessing that will be a permanent two-weeks on, two weeks off kind of thing. I can live with that. The idea that I wouldn’t be able to taste anything the rest of my life was a tough one, having it even partial back is a big relief.

My blood sugar is normal, no worries there. A testament that anyone with prediabetes or diabetes would be greatly helped by adopting a Keto Diet. It has saved me from suffering hypoglycemia, a side-effect of the GDC and having to take yet another drug. I’ll be posting about my own experience with this new lifestyle later.

My hair can’t decide if it’s falling out or not. One week it seems to be dropping out at twice the rate as it typically does, then returns to normal. Time will tell. I don’t care much, I look great bald.

Between the mouth sore, intermittent diarrhea and loss of appetite I haven’t quite worked out what to eat on keto when I don’t feel well. Anyone with ideas for that, I’m all ears. I can only eat so much tuna salad and scrambled eggs.

The Facts of Life

LOL, are we in TMI territory yet? Oh well, you take the good, you take the bad here.

Here’s the good. Declan in a kilt! Oh my heart. He was so adorably handsome. The whole wedding party looked terrific, especially, Kayla and Chris (Declan’s parents, the bride and groom). We all agreed it was one of the best wedding we’ve ever been too. A picture perfect day all around.

The venue was lovely, the hotel was laid out perfectly for hanging out and greeting people in the lobby and lounge. The weather cooperated. Eva and Lillian were in charge of Declan and his 17mth-old sister Keira. Paul and I got to hang out with them quite a bit too.

We’ve know the Danheys, the bride’s family, since we moved in next door to them 24 years ago, and have been fortunate enough to be included in the major celebrations throughout the years. All of which means we are very familiar, friendly and in love with the extend family. And seeing that I’ve been caring for Declan for the last 6 years, I’ve gotten to know and feel close to the Murrays, Chris’s family, as well. All of which made the weekend feel like one big family celebration. As it should be.

Baby, Baby, Baby

This week I got to see my friend Sara when she came down to fill out her baby registry. I am keeping busy planning her baby shower, making decor, and menu planning, my forte, and I’m grateful for such a happy occasion to keep me distracted. And to celebrate and honor Sara, Ben and their soon to be little man.

Write This Way

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is nearing. I “won” 2010-2016, participated in 2017 and 2018, making this my tenth year. I’m not sure if I’m writing something new or reworking one of the previous years work. But I will be hosting one night a week here at home, and as usual, hosting the Kick-Off Party, The All Night-All Write, and TGIO and Reading. Whew!

Truthfully, I’m having a hard time caring about my writing. Not to get maudlin on you, but I’m struggling to find it relevant. I have promised to finish the novels I have started so they can at least be read by the few who care to. It’s the least I can do I guess after spending so much time being a “writer,” the last 10 years.

Misconceptions

Metastatic breast cancer is incurable, thought treatable. I will be having a CT at the beginning of Oct. This will be the first indication as to whether these drugs are working to stop the cancer’s growth. That is why it is so important to manage the side-effects. The cancer itself isn’t the problem presently.

I’m sure I wrote about this before but I want to clear up something. One question cropped up several times over the last week, “How long will you be on these meds?” The answer is “Forever or until they stop working.”

More often than not it is the side-effects that people find intolerable, physically and mentally and in despair give up on treatment. My research team tries to save me from going down that path, and keep me as healthy as I can be. I truly appreciate their attention and concern.

I can easily see how depressing life becomes when you aren’t able to enjoy the things you normal take for granted (LOL, words to the wise…be grateful for trauma free eating and pooping).

Nothing to See Here

Nothing dramatic happening otherwise, at least not to me. I’ve had my sister’s two flooffy pups this week while she vacations in Paris and Nice. Strangely enough, that is also where the honeymooners have been this week.

I love you all. Thank you for reading. Thank you for responding, writing, calling, sending me gifts. It is humbling to have so many people hoping, praying and wishing me well. Your kindness is deeply meaningful to me. Life is Good.