Sandy Beardsley
Living with a Brain Tumor

October 2005
    Nov »
Day Twelve
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 10:31 am

Monday, 7:30am…

by Sandy
Two weeks ago I did not even know what the word blog meant, now I am blogging! I am not taking over my husband’s job and my brain would not allow it even if it was running at full capacity (not sure it ever was). Dan has done a beautiful job of descriptive writing of this experience. Since I had a web journal the first time around with cancer, I feel like I’ve been there, done that… and there’s some wonderful symmetry to having Dan share his words because it shows how this journey is not mine alone, but loved ones are right there with you.
Happy Halloween! Especially to all the Orondo School students. Be kind to your teachers today and don’t eat all your candy at once.
I can’t tell you how much it has meant to Dan and I to hear from everyone - family, friends, coworkers and neighbors on Wilson Street with their great descriptions which help me visualize home and walking our dogs. And thanks for the candle lightings. And thanks to Dan’s Forest Service family, who is now my family as well. And thanks to our housesitter Amy. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to all my doctors, nurses, med students and staff for all their great care so far. Hug a medical professional today - they deserve it
Thank you to all the Orondo staff for all your kind notes, emails and cards (Pam, thanks for the angel medallion). Carol, your book Hope Happens couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I’ve been poked like a pin cushion, received some bad news in front of a whole roomful of medical people and couldn’t sleep. Some of the words from that book and kind words from a male nurse helped (students, a male hispanic nurse - he was great). Quote from the book: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are but small matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Whether you’ve contacted us or not, we know you’re out there and the prayers are helping. Getting through surgery was my first goal. Now I am working toward getting all the information and treatment I can. Wednesday I meet with my surgeon, and will have the staples removed (I’m regretting I didn’t bring my best staple remover from school). Yesterday I spent way too much time worrying about my hair (pay attention middle school girls). Finally ended up with a purple bandana on my head because I didn’t want people to think I had dressed up early for Halloween. I look great coming at you, but when I turn around is the problem. But hair grows back, and if people judge you by your looks, you don’t need them as a friend.
The schedule for the rest of the week after Wednesday is dependent on whether my oncologist has jury duty… life goes on I guess. So we’ll meet with him on Wednesday or Friday depending. So the earliest we’ll be home is Friday the 4th or on the weekend. When we meet with the oncologist, the plan is to go over the chemo treatments. When I get home, I’ll meet with local doctors to keep them in the loop on my treatments.
My brain continues to compliment itself, but is having some difficulty typing (Dan is typing as I dictate) and reading. I can read words and comprehend the meaning, but after a couple of minutes it feels like my brain is lifting weights. But I should cut myself some slack, its only been a week since brain surgery. And I’m currently on about six different medicines and walking pretty slow. So my next goal is to rest, gain energy and get stronger. I’m especially proud that my LiveStrong wristband made it through surgery.
Thanks again for all the love that you’ve sent to Dan and I. It’s times like this that you realize how connected we are, and how important that connection is to truly living. As my friend Thelma says… Here’s a HUG.
Love, Sandy (Ms. Beardsley)

8:30 pm…

Sandy and I decided it was high time we got out of Dodge (aka Palo Alto), so today we jumped in our red Dodge Neon rental car (getting out of Dodge in a Dodge, hmmm) and drove an unbelievably narrow, twisting, climbing, curvy, long backroad (I’d like to come back and bike it someday) over to the coast to see if we could find a little ocean therapy. We found it. After lunch outside at a pub with a view of Half Moon Bay, in perfect 75-degrees and blue skies, we drove north a short distance and found a beautiful place… a marine sanctuary park with beaches, tidepools in a huge rocky area, seals and an amazing number of sea birds. We walked a little ways and sat with our backs against a warm rock, gazing out at the ocean, soothed by the sound of the waves. It was so nice.
After awhile the bright sun and water reflection started to hurt Sandy’s eyes - she has had some vision problems and sensitivity since the surgery, so we headed back to Palo Alto (and found the quick highway / freeway to get to this part of the coast). When we got into town, Sandy wanted to look for a head scarf to hide her surgery incision and shaved head on those days when she wasn’t feeling like wearing her badge of honor for all to see. After discouraging trips through several stores at a mall, finding only high-priced and ugly scarves, Sandy started thinking outside the box.
"Pottery Barn" she said.
"Huh? I thought they just had furniture and dishes." I replied.
And large cloth napkins in cool earthy colors. They were perfect, just what she was looking for. Though the clerk was a bit perplexed at this woman putting napkins on her head. She got five "scarves" for the price of one at the other stores. Just don’t tell anyone where she got them.
After all that activity, Sandy’s pain meds were wearing off and she wasn’t feeling too good by the time we got back to the hotel. But a package of letters and drawings of colorful rainbows from her school’s 2nd-graders was waiting for her at the hotel desk, and those cheered her up tremendously. Thanks 2nd-graders!
Good night,

Day Eleven
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 11:04 pm

Sunday, 8:00 pm…
Somehow, without a deliberate plan of doing so, we ended up going back in time today… probably in a subconscious attempt to escape our present reality. After a pretty good night of sleep finally, we went out to breakfast at this place in old downtown Palo Alto that I had noticed yesterday. It’s an old diner that started in the 1920’s and is just a classic place - all original interior with the old booths and fountain bar - and good simple food too. This evening we went back downtown to go to an old movie house we had seen… but it wasn’t just any old movie house. The Stanford Theater is truly like stepping back in time… and they only show old movies there (we saw And Then There Were None, 1945, from the original archived print from film archives - amazing quality - one of the last places in the country that can show these old original film prints) . The theater has been restored to it’s original look with beautiful carpet and sofas in the lobby and a large balcony, art deco lighting, a huge square screen and the best part - after the movie ended, a huge amazing organ rises up out of the floor right in front of the red curtain onstage with a guy playing these old songs on it - the organ music was a perfect end to this day of going back in time… way back…. before all this. It was a good escape for awhile.
Good Night

Day Ten
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 9:45 pm

I’ve posted some photos of this journey on Sandy’s website at: — Link at right…

Note:  I’ve discovered from a few folks that if you are using AOL for your internet that you can’t use the "Comments" form for some reason. If you use AOL and want your comments posted, email them to us at the link to the right and let me know whether or not you want them posted.

8:00 pm…

A great day today - our first full day together outside the hospital. Though we both had a rough night - Sandy fearful at times about being away from the safety of the hospital - I would awaken and hold her until she fell back asleep. We also had to wake up twice so I could give her the medicines she has to take every few hours. But we awoke in each others arms for the first time in what seemed like an eternity… what a gift.
After a little breakfast in bed, I helped Sandy wash her hair (she still can’t get the incision area wet) so it’s a careful two-person job over the sink. This afternoon we drove to downtown Palo Alto (only a few minutes away but we hadn’t been there yet) and walked past all the cool shops, outdoor cafes and pubs and went to this great restaurant - which turned out to be some of the best mexican food we’ve ever had - and it was good to see Sandy eating real food again… and there we were, marveling again at something so simple as going out to eat. We walked around a little more - slowly, as Sandy is still weak and not completely steady on her feet. We got back to the hotel and went and laid in the sun by the pool - had it all to ourselves - Sandy napped there awhile, exhausted from going out, and I floated on my back in the warm water and gazed at the trees overhead - some very meditative water therapy.
This evening we opened a bottle of champagne (Coppola’s Sofia for you wine people) and toasted life….
Good night,
PS - A perfect bit of good timing… Lance Armstrong is on TV tonight - Saturday Night Live - so that will be fun.

Day Nine
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 5:06 pm


A big day. A beautiful day…. blue sky, the sun was warming up the late morning to at least 70, and the fresh breeze met Sandy and I as we walked out of the hospital hand in hand. As nice as her stay in the hospital was, with the great staff taking care of her, it was "pure heaven" for her to walk out of there. And to walk out into an almost summer-like day was icing on the cake. It is so good to see her out of a hospital bed, wearing normal clothes, and walking (slowly) out in the sun instead of down hospital hallways. It’s overwhelming how beautiful such simple everyday things can be when they have been taken away… then given back. Even to have her sitting in the car next to me was pure joy, since I had been making so many solo trips lately.
She and I had a nice little transition back to "reality" when we left the hospital. We walked over to the Cancer Center (the wonderful, spacious and warm space I described before - more like a modern museum or art gallery) to get her multitude of drug prescriptions filled… we walked in to the sound of a great jazz guitarist… and a breast cancer awareness party in the huge lobby. They invited us over ("we’re not picky, everybody’s welcome"), where we had some delicious food, talked to a couple of women about lotions that may help Sandy’s skin during chemo treatments, admired some cool hats they were selling… and marveled at the surrealness of this re-entry into the world. After awhile we picked up her prescriptions and left for the hotel.
So here we are… Sandy, tired from all the activity and walking, napping peacefully. And I’m typing away, looking out into our little green woodland creek area, roses blooming near the patio… and life is good… and peaceful.
Before we left the hospital I helped Sandy carefully shampoo her hair, since she can’t get the incision area and staples wet for another few days. She wanted to look good for her debut. But until we got back to the hotel, she had not been able to actually see the incision and staples herself. So with a couple of mirrors, she got her first look…
"Oh my god… oh my… I’ve been walking around like this? People must be horrified."
I said, "Looks like a badge of honor to me."
"You’re right," she replied, "I guess I’ve got bigger things to worry about than my hair."
I kissed the shaved area of her head for good luck.
And it’s so good to be back at our home away from home…

Day Eight
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 4:36 pm

3:00 pm….
Sandy is doing well and continuing to improve. She will be in the hospital one more night, and then we’re back to the hotel through next week, when she has more appointments here. Today has been a bit quieter for her. She had a nice heart-to-heart chat with one of her doctors early this morning before I got there. I helped her brush her hair, so she’s happy she’s looking better.
After awhile she started feeling pretty good and wanted to go down to the hospital gift shop to buy something for her "brain tumor buddy" roommate who was leaving today. So she took the hospital gown off (yes, the embarrassing kind) and put a t-shirt and sweat pants on… and off we went down to the shop. Luckily it wasn’t far - but an escalator and elevator ride - and she did fine. So we’re looking at books to buy her new friend and this one caught our eye… "I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse?" It looks like a very funny true account complete with drawings and cartoons. So we bought two - one for us as well. And also got her some lotions and a card. I put a couple LiveStrong wristbands in the gift bag as well.
About a half hour ago, her roommate (and her great caring son) left us for their home nearby… wearing the wristbands. It was quite emotional for all of us. She and Sandy really bonded over the last three days. Her friend also had a brain tumor removed by the same doctor, but she has not gotten a pathology report back yet. She was diagnosed ten days ago with the tumor, and then the surgery this week. At least we’ve had six years to prepare for this possibility. They are both really tough strong women who will get through this. They have been alternately joking and helping each other the whole time. It has been good for me too, to be in the company of such strong women.
A physical therapist checked Sandy out and gave her the OK to be as active as she can handle right now. She’s had some great nurses, who quickly become impressed with her strength and sense of humor… but can also hold her hand during those not-so-tough moments. Great people here. Sandy also had the I.V. port in her neck removed this afternoon - a big relief as it was causing her a lot of discomfort. Now she just has an I.V. port in her arm as a precaution, if they need it. She’s eating more solid foods now and that’s helping her build strength. I’m hoping she might be up for a walk out to an outdoor terrace later to get some sunshine and fresh air.
So we’re looking forward to getting out of here tomorrow. And no, I didn’t sleep any better at the hotel, being far away from her. Should have slept on the waiting room couch….
more later…

10:30pm… back at the hotel
Just one last little note for the day as I’m exhausted… now that the adrenaline and fear has lessened a bit, maybe I can sleep some tonight.
The best part of today, besides reading Sandy all your recent comments and emails - and seeing her smile, laugh and cry at the same time - was when I walked with her to an outside garden terrace area (on the same 3rd floor where her room is) and she breathed fresh air for the first time since early monday morning (on that short but long walk from the car to the hospital surgery room)… and we held each other there on the terrace with the last of the sunlight warming us and I saw that sparkle again in those sunlit green eyes of hers…
Good night

Day Seven
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 8:31 am


Good morning… though I’m a bit ragged and bleary from another night on a hospital waiting room couch, knowing Sandy is sleeping soundly not far away fills me with a lot of joy and gratitude. She has had trouble sleeping because, as she says, "I’m just so happy to be alive, I want to enjoy every minute…" Last night I read her the new comments people have sent her — felt so good to be back in the routine of doing that every night (we had a bit of catching up to do since I couldn’t read them to her in the ICU). She really loves hearing from people and is so grateful - it has given her a lot of energy and laughs and hope.

She is sharing a room with a woman who also had brain surgery to remove a tumor - by the same doctors, just after Sandy’s surgery. I can’t even comprehend how someone can do that kind of surgery, much less do it twice (or more) in a day - truly incredible and gifted people. And Sandy is so blessed to be in their hands - the assured, calm confidence they have gives us a lot of hope.

Maybe I’ve talked too much about angels… I went for a walk yesterday over to the old part of the campus. The sun was low and lighting up everything with that warm wonderful late afternoon light. The old stone walls and arches around the big courtyards glowed in the sun or lay in warm shadows. It’s a really beautiful place and I had it almost to myself, no one around. So I’m strolling slowly along one of the long walkways along a building - stone archways on my right, and stone walls to my left - these walkways appear to go on forever when you look down them… when I started hearing a beautiful sound that slowly got louder. It sounded like a chorus of voices, low and then rising, changing tones like a Gregorian chant… but there’s no one around but an occasional student walking by. The voices seemed to be coming from the walls, echoing softly around the courtyard. I felt like I was in a movie and this was the low soundtrack background music. I walked for about five minutes, hearing this beautiful sound, wondering if it was real or if it was only what I wanted to hear and some angels were out there… when I came around a corner and found the source - a group of about 12 young men, all dressed in black pants and white shirts, standing in a small circle and singing these continuous chanting notes. I stood there awhile enjoying it, happy that I wasn’t hearing things - not that I would have minded hearing such wonderful music… then walked back to see Sandy.

Well, I have to go see if she’s waking up yet…. can’t wait to see that smile of hers. More later…

12:30pm…. at the hotel

Well, when they found me wandering the halls of the hospital carrying a volleyball and talking to it [thanks for that visual Babs.. probably not far off the mark] …Sandy kicked me out of there and back to the hotel to clean up. Unfortunately the surgery hasn’t diminished her capacity to boss me around a little bit. So I walked outside into the first cloudy rainy day we’ve had here, looked up and there’s a rainbow arcing into the hills west of here… but it was completely cloudy, never seen a rainbow without a little sun somewhere.
Don’t mind me if I’m seeing good signs in everything… life just has an intensely focused and illuminated look to it right now…. like everything is lit from within - people, the amazing artwork in the hospital hallways, flowers, old stonework, the red-tailed hawk sitting on a branch just ten feet from me, everything… not taking any of it for granted. Life is truly beautiful in ways I can’t even begin to describe. I feel like a sponge soaking it up - especially when I look at Sandy.
When you live in one and aren’t a patient, hospitals are amazing places [don’t worry, I’m not planning on moving in permanently]. It’s just that you’re surrounded by all these lives, all these stories -good ones and tragic ones - it’s like everyone’s emotions are just laid out there, nothing hidden. Or maybe it’s just me opened to seeing it clearer. But you can see the stories in their faces… the exchange of looks. Sometimes I meet eyes with someone and there’s this knowing that we’re here for someone special to us - this shared pain and fear. And then I’ll get a look from a doctor or nurse walking by and their smiles say… hang in there, it will be ok, we’re here for you….
Even the security guards are understanding. Last night in the middle of the night I was laying on this couch in the waiting room (with blankets and pillow supplied by a nurse) and heard a guard talk into his radio… "…yes, we have a guest here on B3, and he’s OK, all tucked in."
Sandy had her first solid food today and is of course quite happy about that - chicken broth for breakfast wasn’t getting it anymore. One of her doctors removed the bandage and gauze covering the surgery site… and naturally it’s quite a site indeed - about a four to five-inch diameter shaved area on the back right side of her head, with a 5-inch long incision that has been stapled with a lot of staples. But it’s healing well, that’s the main thing, no infection. And they are not going to cover the incision site anymore, just to get air to it so it will heal faster. She will get the staples (sutures they call them) taken out later next week. She’s in some more pain now that anasthesia has worn off, but some other meds are keeping pain under control.
Well, I better shower, grab my volleyball and get back to the hospital…. more later

11:00pm…. back at the hotel

First, we thank you all for the comments and emails. They lift Sandy up tremendously - the highlight of her day. Two weeks ago I didn’t really even know what a blog was. And now it’s this powerful connection with all of you that has been strengthening and heartwarming to say the least… I’ve never felt alone here.
Sandy is stable, I’m desperately in need of sleep and she kicked me back out of the hospital for the night anyway… so here I am. Feels very strange to not be near her. I may not be able to sleep here either, given the day that this has been…
A very hectic busy day for Sandy… bandages taken off (by the way, there’s about 20 staples along the incision - I counted), countless shots, lots of medicine, interviewed by medical students for more than an hour, several visits by doctors and surgical team, the great nurses checking on her, a visit by the wonderful oncologist’s nurse, a student nurse practicing her I.V. line setup on her, headaches, pain and bruising from all the shots and the I.V. port that is still in her neck, eating solid food for the first time, I read her the big bunch of wonderful notes mailed to the hotel from her coworkers at school, and even a long walk down the hallways admiring all the artwork - it was me, Sandy and her roommate (the "brain tumor babes" they call themselves) arm in arm strolling very slowly down the halls. It was good for those girls to get out of the house for awhile, but it must have been quite a site - where’s the camera when you need one. OK, maybe not.
[Some background for the next paragraph… when Sandy was diagnosed 6 years ago and had a needle biopsy of the brain tumor, we were told that brain tumors were graded on a scale of 1 to 4, with Grade 4 being the worst, fast and aggressive kind. Six years ago the biopsy indicated she had a Grade 2 - a huge relief, believe it or not.]
But the moment that will stand out today, even though we have been expecting it - given the appearance of her MRI scans, happened in an almost off-hand way — the scene was the most chaotic moment of her day. I had just been back in the room a few minutes, to find the the student nurse and her great teacher (a brain tumor survivor) setting up another I.V. line in her arm, her regular nurse for the shift (Victor, a great guy) Sandy, and I talking about the yellow "LiveStrong" wristbands we all wore and how long we each had them on… when her surgeon and his team walked into the room. He asked how Sandy was doing and then said that they had gotten the pathology report back.
"It’s a grade 4," he said.
Sandy looked over at me from her bed. Our eyes must have said it all. Even though we knew this moment was going to come sometime in these days at Stanford…. still to actually hear the words that we have dreaded for six years actually cut through the air was…
I’m back, it has been hard to write this. After some hugs and tears tonight, we reassured each other. Sandy and I know that Grade 4 is not a death sentence. Her oncologist said the other day that even if it turned out to be grade 4, he felt that it could be controlled with chemo treatments. As Sandy says, "It worked for Lance, it will work for me." She took another look at the photo of Lance during his chemo days… with that look in his eyes.
I told Sandy a week or so ago that what we’re going through is like walking up to the edge of a huge chasm, knowing that we have no choice but to jump… and the jump was the surgery. Now that she’s through that and healing - the parasails have slowed us and guided us down… but the river at the bottom of this chasm looks like it has a hell of a lot of big rapids in it….
Good night

Day Six
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 11:32 am

10:30am Good morning… and yes, it is a good morning. Sandy got through the night in ICU just fine. The very kind nurses let me in a couple hours before the official 10am visitation hour. She’s a bit tired from all the drugs - various pain killers, steroids, anti-coagulants, etc. - but she was able to angle the bed a little higher and take her first sips of water and 7up, a little broth, and a couple bites of jello. Finally I got to feed her, just like she fed me last fall after I got hit on the bike. She was very happy to be able to drink something because until now she could only get fluids through an I.V. line of course. And she’s still has her sense of humor… the nurses are impressed. She’s a tough cookie and is looking pretty good. I think I must look a little better too - finally passed out on a chair-bench bed I rigged up in the ICU waiting room - after 40+ hours of no sleep, I managed to drop off for about 4 hours. Amazing how adrenaline can keep you going… along with all the love and energy flowing this way from friends and family. Sandy is getting moved to a regular room at 11am, so I have to get off here. Hopefully post some more later. Love and thanks, Dan


Around 12:30 Sandy was wheeled out of ICU — a very intense, at times noisy environment with trauma cases in the same room - but the nurses are great in there. I don’t know how they do it. Angels, definitely angels. The gentleman who wheeled her to her room was real nice and had us laughing a bit. As we went by the nurses station, he said hello to Sal and told us that he would be Sandy’s nurse today. He then told us when we got to the room that Sal was one of the best nurses here, a real compassionate guy — who also just happened to be driving across a big bridge near here recently when a bus load of people crashed and launched a bunch of people into the water. Sal jumped the 25-foot+ drop into the water and saved some people. Like I said, the angels are real here. Sal’s a great guy, but unfortunately almost off duty. Hopefully we’ll see him tomorrow. But I can’t wait to see the next angel.

Sandy has been sleeping soundly this afternoon for the first time. She didn’t get but a couple of cat naps in ICU. She was also able to walk to the bathroom and got to see herself in a mirror for the first time. Let me just say that he lady who cut her hair the other day would be mad. Her pain level is being kept in check pretty well now that anasthesia has worn off.

I have to sign off. The neurological surgery team is coming by to visit her this afternoon and I don’t want to miss them. Luckily this health library computer is just down the hall a couple minutes away — and I found a computer tucked away that no one knows is here, so that makes these posts easier with no one standing in line.

More later….

10:00pm…. Sandy continues to improve… and she’s not in a huge amount of pain, thank goodness. Very fatigued of course, but able to walk on her own (with a little assist here and there). I walked her down the hall and back (maybe 40 yards each way) and she did great. But it really made her tired. Then I got to sit in a chair next to her bed, hold her hand while she slept and watch a little of the world series…. life is good. Had planned to write more, but it’s late and I’m quite tired - but also quite happy. Good night Dan

Day Five
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 8:19 pm

We’re blessed… Sandy got through the surgery.  I’ve seen her in the Intensive Care Unit four times so far, and each time she’s looking better. The first time I saw her, around 1:00pm, she was awake, able to talk and wanted me to send her love out to everyone. She will be in ICU through tomorrow probably and then moved to a regular room. The nurses are keeping close watch on her, and she’s doing relatively great, considering what she’s been through.

It was the longest morning of my life… we got here at 6am, she had an MRI at 7, and prepped for anasthesia by 8. Up until then, I could be with her, but then had to say goodbye. The hardest goodbye for me ever, even having the faith that she was going to be OK. Those few hours seemed like an eternity. The surgeon came out to talk to me around 12:30 and said everything went smoothly and no complications. He did say what we already figured was true though, that the glioma (tumor) appears to be a higher grade (meaning fast growing), but they won’t know for sure for several days after tests.

Finally they brought her by on a gurney on the way to the ICU and we were able to talk briefly. What a huge relief. I lost it, again, and walked out into the sunshine crying with a mix of joy and fear. But mostly joy that she appears to be OK from the surgery.

Each time I’ve talked to her (they only allow me in ICU for a few minutes every two hours) she appears a little stronger, can talk more and is even making jokes…. which she did on the way into the operating room as well. She’s amazingly strong.  I’m staying here at the hospital tonight, probably sleeping on a couch, just so I can at least be near her, even though I won’t get any more visits after 10pm. I better sign off until tomorrow, I’m at a computer in the health library and people are waiting to use it.

Thank you all again for the wonderful messages, thoughts, prayers and love. You’re helping us pull through this.

Good night,


Day Four
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 10:22 pm

Another beautiful day of warm sunshine… and perfect music….
Some things are just meant to be… Last night about we went down for a soak in the outdoor hot tub at the hotel. A warm night with a few stars showing above. We started chatting with a couple guys and a woman who were in the tub. They were musicians from C
and N
ew York
, part of a modern classical group, who were on a national tour with several other musicians from around the world. They were going to be performing Sunday at Memorial Hall on the Stanford campus (a great old theater we had walked into yesterday, and thought, wow this would be an amazing place to see a concert - of course we didn’t think to look at a schedule). They told us about the music and it sounded amazing (see a quote from the concert website - link at right describes it best and has music clips also). Modern classical - Spanish folk with
Mediterranean influence - lit afire by the voice of soprano Dawn Upshaw and the guitar of one of S
outh America’s best musicians. They said we shouldn’t miss it. So we told the musicians we met at the hot tub that we just might go to the concert.
So today, after taking a couple of wrong turns driving to the Memorial Hall, we arrived at the concert…. and went up to ticket window wondering if we would even be able to get in because the number of people outside waiting to get in made it look sold out. I noticed the ticket price of $50 for a good seat. Just then a man approached us holding up a couple of tickets… "Want some tickets?" We hesitate a second, thinking he might be scalping at a high price or something. "Free", he says, "and they’re good seats. Oh, and here’s a couple more you can give away to someone else, I have to get inside." Astonished at this good luck, we grabbed the tickets and thanked him, gave the other pair of tickets to a couple walking up, and headed inside. And yes, they were great seats - 6th row $50 seats right near the stage. We couldn’t believe it. Had I not gotten lost on the drive, parked a half mile walk from the theater, the timing to bump into that guy with the tickets would not have happened.
Like I said, some things are just meant to happen. The concert was unbelievable - I can’t even begin to describe it, but it touched our souls and moved us profoundly. Music like nothing we’ve ever heard, yet it was deeply familiar at the same time. The voice of Dawn Upshaw was incredible and a perfect match for the styles of music. After the concert, we met two of the musicians from the night before - Michael and Bridget - and thanked them. Sandy shared her story with Michael. We walked out into the late afternoon sunshine… soothed, energized, at peace and loving life that it gave us this gift of healing music.
Then back to our hotel (moved back to same one we started at on Wednesday) which is very quiet and has a little patio overlooking a creek flowing through a green forest, with roses and ivy outside the door. We look forward to getting back here, hopefully on Thursday.
Tomorrow is S
’s surgery, scheduled for around . We have to get there at 6, so I better sign off now. I may not be able to post anything from the hospital tomorrow, but I’ll call some folks to spread the word on how S
is doing.
Thanks for all the love.
Good night,

Day Three
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 9:03 pm

A peaceful and easy day today… no medical center, no doctors, no forms, no appointments. Just a day for us. We got out of the hotel around noon and drove the 10 miles to the Stanford U campus (tomorrow we move back to the first hotel we had here which is just a mile or two from campus). On the way to the campus we stopped at a couple of bike shops and gave them my "See Bicycles" bumperstickers to distribute — so we’re going national with this driver education campaign now. Met some really nice folks at the bike shops and shared bike-car war stories (I won).
We spent most of the afternnoon until about 5pm walking around the campus — a very large, beautiful place that is closed to vehicles. Nice to get away from cars in this car-filled crazy-driver area. Walking through the beautiful old spanish style buildings, courtyards, fountains, parks filled with big trees was so nice for both of us. Check the links section to the right to see photos of Stanford. Tomorrow another day of resting up (except for moving to another hotel) and preparing for Monday.
I’ll keep this post short you’ll be happy to see…
Good night

Day Two
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 10:19 pm

Another good day that reinforces our sense of the healing energy of this place…
Walking into the Stanford Cancer Center itself was a wonderful experience… an amazingly peaceful, healing place… a new, beautifully designed building full of natural light, warm colors and wood, and artwork everywhere. It looks more like an art gallery than a typical hospital… very calming. But of course the doctors rooms look like doctors rooms everywhere. But the impression of the entrance area lasted a long time.
We met with the lead doctor of oncology today to learn about chemotherapy treatments post-surgery and were very encouraged by his attitude and what he said. Things like… "We’re optimists around here…" and "I don’t want to go out on a limb here before surgery and the pathology exam, but judging from the MRI scans I’m going to be bullish on this one… I believe we can control this…"  Of course, great words to hear even knowing that he can’t say anything for sure until meeting with us on November 4th. And even then, no guarantees about how Sandy’s cancer will respond to chemo treatments. But highly encouraging — we’ll take it at this point. It looks like initially at least, for the first round, she will just take a pill (a chemo drug called temodar) for a week out of every month for a year or so, depending on MRI results down the road. We walked out into the warm (perfect 70’s) blue sky day of Palo Alto, strolling past ponderosa pines and palm trees, smiling more than we have in a long time. We walked to an open-air shopping area near the campus and Sandy found a salon to get her hair cut and styled — she has to look good for that surgeon you know. Oh, that was good news for her yesterday too (not that she cares that much) but her surgeon says he will only have to shave a relatively small area of her head to access where the surgery will be, and her longer hair should hide it. She was all ready just to go get her head shaved ahead of time and be in control of her hair destiny, but at least she got a nice style out of the deal anyway. It looks great. Later we went to a Stanford Shop and bought Stanford t-shirts and caps, since Sandy will soon be an honorary alumni.
I forgot to mention yesterday the one thing that helped Sandy survive the flight down here — she had Lance Armstrong’s first book in her lap - It’s Not About the Bike, open to the page with the great photo of him taken during his chemo days - looking straight into the camera, "bald, scarred and brooding" but also determination in his eyes. Sandy looked into those eyes (and mine occassionally of course) and gathered strength…. as we rocketed toward this place of healing… Oh and another good sign after the plane (an MD80, Pat) landed in San Jose - we exited the plane not through the usual tunnel labyrinth attached to the door and into the terminal (it’s a small airport), but through the drop-down hatch at the rear of the jet - down the half-dozen steps and onto the runway into the warm California sunshine…
Sandy and I want to thank everyone for all the great comments and emails — they’re really helping us through this.
Good night,

Day One
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 11:35 pm

We arrived in Palo Alto yesterday. Survived the flight from Seattle to San Jose — Sandy hates flying, I mean really hates flying. Also survived a near-miss broadsiding in our rental car by a pickup truck, just 3 minutes out of the airport parking lot. Now that would have been a seriously bad ironic deja-vu way to go (I later put one of my "See Bicycles" bumperstickers on the rental car for good luck). Luckily the hotel we stayed at last night was a peaceful quiet green oasis in this very sprawling urban place. We were both rattled and dazed from the long day of traveling… holding each other… tears in the night.
Today we drove the short (but long) trip to Stanford Medical Center — a surprisingly large, beautiful and peaceful setting with low buildings, parklike grounds, fountains, etc. We felt good energy and healing here right away.  We met Sandy’s surgeon for the first time (we had both talked to him on the phone last week). Dr. Chang is a very confidence-inspiring man, to say the least. And not in a brash egotistical way… but a peaceful way. He explained everything step by step, and clearly. And answered all our questions directly. We both immediately loved the guy (though that had already happened on the phone). He is confident that the new active tumor area can be removed with minimal risk. Though of course no guarantees that it won’t recur elsewhere nearby, given the type of tumor that it is. And that’s where the chemotherapy treatments will come into play. [He drew Sandy’s brain and the tumor location on the tissue paper covering the exam table, which we tore off and saved and had a good laugh about later] … More on what he said tomorrow or the next day, it’s getting late…
We then met with Daphne - a great nurse administrator - at the surgical admitting office. She also explained how the surgery day on Monday would go, step by step. She also gave us confidence with her knowledge, warmth and sense of humor. Then a meeting with the director of anasthesiology, and learned how Sandy will be put under, and brought back afterward, for the surgery. Tomorrow we meet with the Oncology staff to talk about possible chemo treaments. But they won’t know exactly what the course will be until after surgery.
So lots of meetings, questions and forms today. But it was a good day and meeting all the people involved instilled us both with a strong sense that "this is the place." All of the people we have met here at Stanford have been incredible, on every level.  Sandy feels she is in the best possible place to fight this. Which has been reinforced by even all the great hotel staff people, and our sweet waitress at a wonderful Chinese restaurant (best Chinese food we’ve ever had, thanks to all the nurse’s recommendations) who, after innocently asking us why we had traveled to Stanford and got Sandy’s smiling "to have brain surgery" reply, gave us a big box of fortune cookies for good luck. By the way, Sandy’s fortune cookie read… "Being aware of your fears will improve your life."  Yes indeed, I’d say we’re there…
Sandy wanted me to thank everyone for all the love and support coming her way. We rode that wave down here and continue to feel it. I thank you as well. Keep it coming.
Please send us a note if you would like to by clicking "comments" link at each post. Just let me know if you would rather it be private to us and I won’t post your comment for all to see. If your comment is already posted and you don’t want it to be, let me know via comments link.
Good night and love to all,

Living with a Brain Tumor
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 6:55 am

Welcome… This is Dan, Sandy’s husband. I’ll be attempting to update this blog daily as Sandy prepares for and undergoes surgery on the brain tumor that has become active again. This seemed like a good way to keep friends and family updated and also share comments that we receive. If you would like your comment to not be published, just let me know. Go to Sandy’s website journal at to read about her journey in living with a brain tumor since 1999. Chapter 18 is her latest entry.
Thanks for all the love and support.