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Tag Archives: Cancer Awareness

Fighting Cancer: The Road We Traveled @vickibatman Vicki Batman #AttackingCancer #CancerThe Road We Traveled

Thanks for joining me over the past years for Cancer Week on Romance Lives Forever (hugs for Kayelle!) as I delve into Handsome’s journey with esophageal cancer and reconstructive plastic surgery.
This past January, a small scabby hole appeared on Handsome’s lower left jaw where the skin was thin. The doctor had stitched it closed after the reconstructive surgery last summer; however, we crossed our fingers and prayed the area would stay healed. We were hopeful for a long while. When the spot appeared to grow larger, I asked Handsome if I could touch it, and indeed, I felt the titanium plate. This scenario wasn’t ideal as infections could set in and destroy all the surgeries he’d undergone. We sent photos to the doctor who insisted we come in immediately.
“Coming in immediately” meant driving to Houston which wasn’t a bad trip. Mostly, we were tired of the drive. Tired of the whole thing.
The doctor confirmed the thin skin issue and prepared us for adding another graft plus an artery. The surgery would take place in the middle of February. Handsome would stay in the hospital for about five days. Easily doable.
The surgery went well. Every day, the doctor and the fellow checked for pulse and the color of the graft. Handsome healed so quickly, they said he would be released the following Saturday. Great rejoicing! But on Friday, the fellow checked the pulse. Good near his heart; not good on the graft. In fact, the graft looked like bad chicken skin, all pale yellow-ish and wrinkly. The doctor wanted to see if the graft could be saved and rolled him straight into surgery. The team worked for hours. Afterwards, the doctor said it was a “maybe” and would look at him the next morning. Because of the awkwardness in intubating Handsome, he was kept under sedation in ICU.
Early the next morning, the fellow determined the graft would not survive, and they would be redoing the surgery with two arteries for more blood supply. That was when I got panicky. During all of Handsome’s surgeries, I had been cool. I kept busy with reading, writing, and stitching, but this one got to me. #2 son phoned and asked if he should drive down. For the first time, the need for handholding swamped me. I said, “Yes.”
The 3 x 4 inch grafted tissue came from Handsome’s left wrist area. The arteries from his leg. He stayed another five days with no problems. Obviously, he had grown weaker from having had a second surgery. The progress he’d made with swallowing and neck strength all dissolved. His speech was compromised. Fatigue took over.
To date, Handsome has had ten surgeries in two years, fifteen feet of stitches. The belly tube would stay for another five months. He underwent lymphedema therapy in Houston and ultimately, moved it to a hospital closer to us, which he continues.
Nothing about his surgeries have been easy. Handsome has healed and the doctors are very pleased. VERY. He (laughingly) whined the other day about being tired of the whole thing and wanted our old normal back. He’s allowed to feel this way. I want our normal back too—in every aspect of our relationship. A huge goal to swallow is front and center so he can eat when we cruise the Adriatic Sea in 2019. Even though he has a long haul ahead, we are very hopeful.
How did he get cancer? No one has figured it out. Acid reflux? Maybe. Alcohol? Probably not. HPV? No. Smoking an occasional cigar? Doubtful. Parents smoking? Who knows. Working in oil fields? Possible.
What we do know is this: if you don’t want esophageal cancer, be healthy. Eat right. Drink moderately. Don’t smoke. Exercise.Fighting Cancer: The Road We Traveled @vickibatman Vicki Batman #AttackingCancer #Cancer
But the truth is Handsome did all those things. Does this mean not take care of oneself? Absolutely not! If he had not been as healthy as he was, surgery and recovery would have been harder or impossible.
For those of you undergoing cancer treatment, I’m with you. You are some of the strongest people I know, fighting a horrible disease.
We often say a path had been put in front of us and that was the road we had to travel. And no whining.
The Great Fruitcake Bake-off: When five-time champion Samantha Greene teams up with her new neighbor, Dixon Roberts, for The Great Fruitcake Bake-off, they discover baking a prize-winning entry is complicated, bad guys are plotting to take the crown, and first prize isn’t just about a ribbon.

Where to buy Whispers of Winter

Fighting Cancer: The Road We Traveled @vickibatman Vicki Batman #AttackingCancer #CancerAmazon
Barnes and Noble

Vicki Batman Social Media

Vicki Batman has sold many romantic comedy works to magazines, several publishers, and most recently, two humorous romantic mysteries. Along the way, she has picked up some awards and bestsellers. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and several writing groups. Avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Chocaholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby. Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking “What if?”
Amazon Author Page

Image credits: road photo by the author

Maw of the Monster

On January 22, 2008, if I’d known I was being thrust into the maw of the medical monster I would have shown up with more than a plastic spatula.
It was a frigid morning when the phone rang, too early to be anything but rude. “You want me to do what?” was my equally impolite response. I’d been snuggled under my yellow comforter. Now, I was supposed to get myself across Puget Sound asap to a hospital. Not a long journey, as the crow flies, but crows don’t care that Vashon Island has no bridge and only one ferry was in service that morning.
A half hour later I was outside, hopping from one freezing foot to the other and staring at my red Jeep, covered from roof to fender with a thick coat of frost. Back in my native Northeast, I’d have been better prepared. But the Northwest was supposed to have mild winters, so a black plastic spatula was all I could find as an anti-frost device.
Many blue-fingered scrapes were required to get me on the road at last. If I’d realized how rough that ride would be, I’d have stayed under the yellow comforter. If I’d realized I had breast cancer, I never would have answered the phone.
Skip ahead to December and another anomalous Northwest winter of blizzards and deep chill. By then, we had acquired a bona fide ice scraper, the red Jeep auto-piloted to the hospital, and the maw of the medical monster had grown to a chasm over which I dangled, holding on for dear life to the nearest fang.
You’ve probably heard the urban hospital legend where the trusting patient enters with a hangnail and ends up an amputee. I’d been inserted into my personal version of that tale. I thought I was in the home stretch, ready for brand new breasts to replace the old now-absent ones. Instead, I faced the two-pronged attack of a raging staph infection and surgical procedure #8, both of which would conspire to kill me.
Flash forward again to today. The cold, the ferry schedule, the infection and the surgeries are ten years past, but this was a horror story nonetheless. One I survived with the help of faith, family, friends and a miracle or two. I pray there will never be another shocking phone call or any of what followed, for me or for you. Meanwhile, my advice is that we all arm ourselves with mammograms against this monster because a plastic spatula simply will not do.

Alice Orr –

A Time of Fear and Loving by Alice Orr

A hot car and a hot guy can get a girl into trouble.
Maybe that’s what Amanda Miller needs. But how much trouble is too much trouble? Dead bodies on the riverbank? A possible kidnapping? Sexy detective Mike Schaeffer might save the day. But who will protect Amanda’s heart?
Alice Orr is known for Delicious Suspense Spiced with a Love Story.
She does it again in A Time of Fear and Loving.
A Time of Fear and Loving is Book 5 of the Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series set in Riverton, New York featuring the Kalli and Miller families and the Women of West Main who will debut in Book 6. Find out more at
Genre Romantic Suspense
Book heat level (based on movie ratings) R
Publisher. Alice Orr Books

Alice Orr Social Media

Alice Orr is the author of 16 novels, 3 novellas, a memoir and No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells. A former book editor and literary agent, Alice now lives her dream as a full-time writer. She has two grown children and two perfect grandchildren and resides with her husband Jonathan in New York City.
Amazon Author Page


Claire Marti shares a wonderful story about not just her battle with cancer. And it’s a story of victory.

Claire Marti’s Fighting Cancer Story

As a yoga teacher, I’d always known of the incredible benefits of yoga for the body, mind, and spirit. Until I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, however, I had no idea how much yoga would help me weather the toughest time of my life. I credit teaching and practicing yoga as vital components in my journey back to radiant health.
In January 2010, I truly felt that I was living my dream. I had exited corporate America the year prior and was happily balancing teaching yoga full-time with a blossoming writing career. I was in a relationship with the man of my dreams, living close to the ocean. To put it simply, I was happy.
Out of the blue, I found a lump in my breast. I was shocked and devastated, especially because I had a clear mammogram three months earlier. I was healthy, fit and felt invincible.
Over the course of that year, I endured three surgeries, six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and almost two months of daily radiation. I balanced out this assault on my body with a primarily plant-based diet filled with anti-oxidants, daily exercise, acupuncture and most importantly, yoga. My doctors often commented that I was their “superwoman patient” because I never got really nauseous through chemo and seemed to maintain a comparatively high level of energy during treatment.
Don’t get me wrong: many days I was exhausted and despondent. Despite the fluctuations in my energy levels, I continued to teach most of my yoga classes and got certified to teach Yoga for Cancer Therapy while undergoing chemotherapy myself.
Cancer attacks your body, but it also attacks your mental well-being. Conventional medicine is aimed at destroying the physical symptoms of the cancer, but can fail to address the significant effects cancer has on the mind and spirit. Yoga addresses the entire person.
Now I offer specialized yoga for cancer recovery classes designed to empower my students to help themselves. Primary benefits include learning to handle side-effects of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, boosting energy, improving mood, learning relaxation and breathing techniques to combat fatigue, stress and pain, restoring flexibility, strength, and range of motion, and enhancing lymphatic flow, digestion and circulation. I am passionate about sharing this gift with others going through any type of cancer to help others on this journey.
When I’m not teaching yoga, I write romance. My latest book, Sunset in Laguna, features a strong, compassionate heroine and the tall, dark, and handsome PTSD suffering veteran with whom she falls in love. Here’s a bit about the book.

Sunset in Laguna by Claire Marti

Sunset in Laguna is a satisfying, fulfilling read that’s full of angst, second chances, humor and a hero and heroine overcoming obstacles to find their HEA.
Genre Contemporary Romance
Book heat level (based on movie ratings): PG-13

Returning to Laguna Beach after four tours in the Middle East, Christian Wolfe leaves the military behind and buys a wine bar, vowing to keep his life simple. He fights to keep his devastating PTSD a secret and refuses to burden anyone else with his baggage. When stunning Kelly Prescott and her red stilettos saunter into town, she drives him past the bonds of his self-control.
Successful in her father’s stuffy law firm, Kelly’s too compassionate to survive in the cutthroat world of corporate litigation. Leaving behind both family and courtroom drama, she moves to Laguna to become general counsel for a nonprofit veterans’ organization.
She didn’t bargain on a gorgeous modern-day Heathcliff, and in Christian, she sees another kind of challenge—one she can’t resist.

Where to buy Sunset in Laguna

Barnes and Noble

Claire Marti Social Media

Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.
Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. Sunset in Laguna is the third book in her Finding Forever in Laguna series from The Wild Rose Press.
Ocean Soul Yoga – Survive Cancer with Claire
Amazon Author Page


Dee is the blog designer and guru for Romance Lives Forever as well as my Kayelle Allen website. I’m honored to have her here sharing her fighting cancer story.

Fighting Cancer

Living for the dead, missing out on the living. Dee from PM Inc on Fighting Cancer @pmnp #AttackingCancer #Cancer Hi, my name is Dee; both my manager, Cindy, and I have been affected by Cancer. Through the loss of loved ones, supporting family and friends, having our own trials with it, it does sometimes seem like cancer is winning the battle. However, that is not exactly the case. Yes, it has taken some very important people from our lives but we have also learned more about ways to fight cancer. We know now that it is more than just genetics but also the environment you are in and what you take into your body.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month but each month, day, and year is also a time to be aware of the new developments in fighting and surviving cancer and it’s treatments. A year ago I could not have told you why mom had to pass away. I could not have told you what good came from it. Today I know that she fought a long hard battle, that she was tired and her quality of life just was not the same. I can also tell you that she would not have wanted us to wallow in her passing. I did just that for several months; I was unwilling to let her go and because of it I ended up living for the dead and missing out on the living. I can barely remember any memorable moments over the past year because I spent so much of it disconnected from the world. Through my faith, I have been able to see the light of day again and know that Mom is safe in Heaven, no more suffering, no more treatments, no more blood disorders or other complications from cancer treatments.

In the past, I have tried to live a healthier life, I want to be around to watch my four grandchildren grow up and live to see my great-grandchildren. I also want to be there for my dad, so I have off and on attempted to live healthier but it was not until about 6 months ago I started sticking to it. I own a bicycle now, and yup I ride it. I go for walks every day even when it’s not convenient. Most days I try to go to bed at a decent hour so I can get much-needed rest. I pay more attention to not what’s just around me but what I put into my body. Having so many family members and my own trial with cancer, I am at too high of a risk to ignore it. So instead of waiting on it to happen, I am being proactive about it. Guess what? My family supports me in this.

For those who have lost someone to cancer, I do not know that we ever truly get beyond that point but we can live for them. We can fight for them. We can show the world they mattered by not sitting back and waiting for it to happen to us.

I hope that each person reading this takes something for themselves. Whether it is eating healthier, getting out and exercising more, or seeking support from a group or counselor, that they just make the conscious decision to do something and not wait on cancer or any other disease to affect their lives.

If you ever need a friend or someone to just listen and not judge, feel free to drop us a line. We do understand and being someone’s pen pal is just one way we can make a difference in other people’s lives.

Dee and Cindy

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Be #Canceraware #Cancer doesn’t discriminate – with Iris Blobel @_iris_b #RLFblogHere’s a personal post from my friend, romance author Iris Blobel.

Thanks to Kayelle for the opportunity to write this special post outside the October Awareness month, but I suppose it’s something we should all think of occasionally during the whole year.
I was diagnosed with Breast cancer late 2016. I found a lump and had a mammogram that came up with nothing, ditto with the ultrasound and in the end it was a biopsy, which confirmed the uncomfortable truth. Just before Christmas! And an 8-month-journey of highs and lows began.
Cancer was always something “others had” – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours … the list is long, but I never thought that my otherwise sickly body would throw that illness at me as well. I was upset and angry, at the same time I had, and still have heaps to live for: my little family.
In hindsight, what is manifested in my mind about that time is a terrible three days after the first chemo treatment and the poor nurses trying to find a vein for each treatment. My arm was bruised and battered. However, what I remember most is the outpouring of love, help, and kindness. The old saying “you find out who your friends are when you need them” is completely true. I’ve been lucky, not in being diagnosed with it, but having to only “fight” for eight months. Of course, it’s a constant part of my life now, but I do my best to ignore it. It was eight month out of a whole lifetime – a whole wonderful lifetime which I can spend with my family, friends – near and far -, colleagues … when we put our mind to something, we can do anything!
But please … be cancer aware. Do self-checks and if you feel uncertain, go and see your GP.
The final chapter, in a way, of this journey was my travel to New Zealand in September – to close the door on everything. To move on. To rejuvenate. To have fun. It’s a beautiful country, which I love it … so much that I wrote a book, partly set in the south island. I wish for readers to be able to escape to NZ for a little while and know there’s beauty in the world and so much to live for.


Today’s featured book is Their Bond Through Jade, a contemporary romance by Iris Blobel.
Pikorua, the Maori name for the symbol, is a twist that is said to symbolise the strength of the bond between two people. Mat is certain there is something between Tiffany and him.
Be #Canceraware #Cancer doesn’t discriminate – with Iris Blobel @_iris_b #RLFblogWhen Tiffany Cahill opens the door to the police, memories flood her mind of the previous year and a relationship gone bad. Frightened, she calls her friend, Steve, for help, but instead a stranger answers the phone. Little does Tiffany know how much this New Zealander is going to impact her life, especially after she is assaulted only a few hours later.
Mat Apanui, the owner of a helicopter tour company in New Zealand, can’t ignore the worry in Tiffany’s voice when he answers Steve’s phone. Before he knows it, he is spending most of his business trip to Melbourne with her. Desperate to keep her safe after an attack, he invites her to stay with him in Queenstown, NZ.
With her safety at risk, how will Tiffany overcome her reservations and trust the sexy stranger enough to fly across the Tasman Sea?
Genre: Romance
Book heat level (based on movie ratings): PG
Barnes and Noble

Iris Blobel Social Media

Amazon Author Page


Last year, Kayelle asked me to write about Handsome’s cancer journey. (Here’s the link to the post.) I had to end with not-so great news: he would have to have a second go. This time:
9 surgeries
16 days in the hospital
6 weeks living in Houston
More months to recuperate
1 tongue that won’t work
1 gastro feeding tube

Because Handsome’s first flap surgery a year ago in July (removing right fibula and creating a left jaw bone) wasn’t successful, our doctors suggested we go to M. D. Anderson in Houston, Texas. Our journey began in November when we visited the doctor who was known world-wide for his reconstructive plastic surgery.

The doctor told us the surgery was the same, utilizing the left fibula, that he would be very careful, and the recovery would be hard, but eventually, Handsome would get through it. We had no choice. Every movement caused the temporary titanium plate to jam into his T M Joint. He could hardly eat and talk. If Handsome wanted to resume having a life like everyone else, he had to have the surgery.

On February 25th, we left behind work, home life, and our adora-poos in the hands of family and friends. The biggest thing we carried with us was hope.

Handsome’s surgery began at five-thirty in the morning. He was prepped, procedures signed off, and wheeled away. That was when my heart lodged in my throat as I prayed for the most superior outcome for him. A nurse escorted me to the waiting room to be updated via monitor. #2 son and my sister joined me as did friends. We talked and were kept informed. However, the day went long, and by six in the evening, I sent them on.

Exactly until twelve-thirty A.M. long. The doctor came out and told me he was pleased and guarded (that the transplant would be successful), and rightfully so. I stayed in the waiting room until one-thirty, long past the cleaning people. The only light burning was the lamp on the side table. My eyes were dry. My head hurt. I could barely do anything. Finally, the recovery nurse escorted exhausted me to him. He’d had: the fibula flap, two donor grafts, one artery graft. Handsome was barely aware as I kissed him and said I would see him the next morning.

The next day, I looked at his surgical sites. I saw the feeding tube, the tracheostomy, and the swelling. The raw graft on his neck. The myriad of stitches all over his body. I thought “aw shit, not again.” Definitely, a long haul.

We communicated by paper; sometimes, a wink and a smile. When he choked, the nurses suctioned his trach. (BTW-a shout-out to those amazing people). Staph infections brought surgical washouts along with massive doses of antibiotics and anti-fungal meds.

At day fifteen, we were discharged to the apartment we’d rented. The hospital nurse tutored us in clearing the trach, cleaning wounds, dispensing meds (including a daily heparin shot), and feeding.

With skilled help, eventually, we began to cope. He took short walks and slept a lot. Strength returned in small increments. As he improved, the trach was removed, and the nasal tube switched to a gastro tube because his tongue was unresponsive. Finally, we were able to go home.

We’ve been at home since the second week of April. Occasionally, we go to Houston for check-ups. The titanium plate had to be re-screwed, and the gastro tube replaced. Physically, he has responded well. He is able to swallow a tiny bit of water. His most recent test showed significant tongue strength. His legs have recovered. His posture improved. The flap is perfect.

They say cancer can be the gift that keeps giving. God, I hope no more for my handsome man. We want to travel more. He wants to eat a great steak. He wants to give inspiring talks to college kids and travel for other speaking engagements.

We have no idea how Handsome got throat cancer. Most people get it from smoking or chewing tobacco. If you do this, STOP NOW. Live a good lifestyle. You do not want this. You never want this. For anyone. Ever. It is brutally hard.

The truth remains: cancer sucks. We have also adopted the phrase “it could be worse.” After seeing what other cancer patients encounter, we believe we are fortunate people.

Know this–I am here for you. Anytime. FMI on esophageal cancer, go to:


Temporarily Employed by Vicki Batman

Genre: romantic comedy, cozy mystery
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
New Job. New Love. And Murder.
Hattie Cook’s dream job is down the toilet and her new SUV violated. Desperate for cash to cover the basic necessities of rent and food, she takes a temporary job at Buy Rite Insurance Company where she uncovers an embezzling scam tied to the death of a former employee–the very one she replaced. The last thing she wants is to clash with By-the-Book Detective Wellborn, no matter how much he makes her heart pound.
Detective Allan Charles Wellborn has secretly adored Hattie all his life. When the police determine there’s more to the death of a former Buy Rite employee, he steps in to lead the investigation. Overly dedicated, always perfect, he puts his job first, even if doing so ultimately hurts the one he loves.
Can the killer be found before Hattie’s time is up?
The Wild Rose Press:

Vicki Batman Social Media

Like some of her characters, award-winning author, Vicki Batman has worked a wide variety of jobs including lifeguard, ride attendant at an amusement park; a hardware store, department store, book store, antique store clerk; administrative assistant in an international real estate firm; and a general “do anything gal” at a financial services firm–the list is endless.
Writing for several years, she has completed three manuscripts, written essays, and sold many short stories to True Love, True Romance, True Confessions, Noble Romance Publishing, Long and Short Reviews, Museitup Publishing, and The Wild Rose Press. She is a member of RWA and several writing groups and chapters. In 2004, she joined DARA and has served in many capacities, including 2009 President. DARA awarded her the Robin Teer Memorial Service Award in 2010.
Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking “What if??”
Amazon Author page
Plotting Princesses:


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