Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Obligatory Pinktober Post Year 2

Yesterday was my 42nd birthday. I didn’t think I had a big chance of making it to my 40th, but here I am. Suck it cancer. Now on to my more serious thoughts about Pinktober.

Even before I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, Pinktober put a bitter taste in my mouth. It isn’t awareness that is needed. Buying pink items will not usually help fund what is really needed. We have the world at our fingertips. You can do quick research on any company/nonprofit that is claiming to donate funds for breast cancer cures before purchasing pink items.

Unless you have been under a rock for thousands of years, I am sure you have heard about breast cancer. “Breast Cancer Awareness” is not needed. What is needed? Support. Research. More research. Proper statistics for Stage IV.

In the two years since my diagnosis, I have come to realize that I am one of the lucky ones to have an amazing support system. I have family, friends, and a great local support group. I have come across people with MBC who have only Facebook support groups. No family. Few friends. No local support groups. This means they have to depend on taxis or public transportation to get to appointments. Some cities have special transport for cancer patients, but this is not a service available everywhere. They go through doctors appointments, treatments, all the exhausting and overwhelming information on their own. These people are stronger than I am. I’m not sure how to fix this. Local support groups are so important, but they also take a lot of work to get going and keep going. If you know someone who might not have much support, let them know that you are cheering them on. Have a box sent to them from one of the many breast cancer foundations out there. One of my favorites was the gift box from The Gracie Foundation. Ford Warriors In Pink has also given me some things that have helped. They funded a free year of meditation from Headspace and I have also received two weeks of free food from Green Chef (probably my absolute favorite box meal company, but oh so very expensive).

These are only two companies. There are many more out there that will send out small gifts to patients. Some nonprofits offer experiences rather than gifts. Send Me On Vacation is one that I can think of right off the top of my head. In any case, receiving an unexpected gift is always a spirit-lifting experience.

Research. Probably one of the most overlooked, kind of important things regarding metastatic breast cancer. MBC kills 100% of the people who have it. When it will get you is kind of up in the air. Some people go quickly and some metsters last for 20 years. It depends on how each person reacts to the available treatments.

I am not asking for research to stop on other types of cancer. All research is important. I just want more. I’m greedy like that. The hard part about this request is that every single person with cancer has a slightly different cancer. We can identify cancers due to where they start and how they behave. After that, it seems to be a guessing game. A person’s genetics can affect how treatments work. So can the makeup of the cancer. For breast cancer, that can be hormone (estrogen or progesterone) positive or negative. Some people are only positive on estrogen but not on progesterone and vice versa. The HER2 protein can play a role. About 1 in 5 cancer patients are HER2 positive.

With all these factors and more to consider, I understand why cancer research is hard. In the past few decades, we have drastically expanded our understanding of cancer. And it just isn’t enough. There is still so much more that we really don’t understand. There are studies going on that are really exciting and could lead to new treatments. If they are funded enough to continue their research. Organizations like Metavivor help to fund research. This is why I choose to donate my birthday to them every year. You can also give on their site or purchase something from their store with the proceeds going to help people like me.

The MBC Project is also working on research. In fact, if any mets sisters or brothers are reading this, get your butts in gear and sign up. They will ask for information as well as genetic material (spit and blood). Even if we will not benefit from it, this type of research could help future generations.

Statistics….

Metastatic breast cancer counts are off. The numbers should show as higher, but the majority of people who had been diagnosed with early stage BC are not counted in the MBC stats. Why? I have no idea. I can tell you that approximately 1 in 3 people diagnosed at an early stage will wind up battling for their lives later on with stage IV. Only about 5% of people originally diagnosed with BC are metastatic at the get go. By not counting the people who were diagnosed at early stages, this makes MBC seem insignificant. Rare, almost. Like a unicorn. Except it isn’t really a unicorn. It is a goat in disguise. More common than one would expect.

So, if you like pink, then buy it. I just ask that you consider where your “donation” is really going. It takes just a few screen presses to make sure your money really is making a difference. If you want the item anyway, go for it. All I ask is that you also consider helping in some way. Support. Research. Statistics.

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Two Years Later

I am still here. Two years ago, August 25, 2016, I received the hardest news. I had breast cancer and it has spread to my bones. In a way, I was a little relieved. The pain and weakness I was experiencing was not in my imagination. On the other hand, I was furious. I am still furious.

I ended my two years with a final dose of AC chemo on Friday and I will be making some of my favorite meals before the mouth sores hit. Friday will be French bread pizzas and Saturday will be one of my favorite Indian meals, potatoes and onions on dosas.

This past year has had its ups and downs, as every year should. I was so disappointed in my hormone therapies failing and so very nervous about starting chemo. I requested the most aggressive chemo treatment I could get and I have responded pretty favorably to it. The side effects are hard: mouth sores, fatigue, low white blood cells, hemoglobin dropping. The upside has been lower cancer antigens. My CA 27.29 went from 756 in March to 137 a week ago. I have talked about the antigen count before and, while it is not a super accurate account of how cancer is progressing or regressing, big drops are positive.

I did not have any big trips, like my Paris trip last year, but I did surprise my husband with a Violent Femmes concert at the Oregon Zoo to celebrate our 20th anniversary. I also booked a yurt through AirBnB. Staying in a yurt pretty much completes the Portland, OR experience. In about a month, I will be taking my eldest son to his first concert. He has no idea what we are doing. I am very excited about it.

My oldest friend, Mandy, was able to visit me for a few days with her family. We had a blast. I took them to Maryhill Museum and the Maryhill Stonehenge monument. I loved having all of them here.

Max adores Makayla and Meg. Meg taught him all about Snapchat. That is still his favorite thing.

Sam made a new friend. He and Ryder had so much fun together.

I have also managed to get in contact with people who have become important to me. I was able to spend a couple of days with two of them and those days were wonderful. Thank you so much for coming to see me, Peg & Matt. I believe that your visit helped with my current “pretty good” blood work. The white rabbit worked for Friday. I love you both.

I took them on the B Reactor Tour.

My family and friends have helped to build me a dream deck on the front of my house. It is big enough to seat our family for dinner and will be perfect for my yearly Witches’ Tea Party.

I also made the decision to reopen my jewelry store on Etsy. I have missed creating stuff. I have a few commissions going on and I hope to eventually add in some sewing items. I have been slow about adding new pieces to my shop because I am also renovating my hobby room. It is almost finished. I just need to add shelves on the walls and get my work desk cleared off.

Our family also went camping for the first time in years. We managed to stay in North Idaho just before it got too smoky for camping.

We went to Silverwood Park while we were in Idaho.

I went to Sandpoint, ID for the first time.

I guess I have felt more normal lately than I have in a while. I am itching to go on walks again, but our area is so smoky now that even the healthiest person is at risk being outside for long. I may feel more normal, but I am in no way the healthiest person. I can go to the gym for at least the next day or so before my white blood cells tank on me. My eldest will be pleased. We have both missed working out.

This past year has been good in that I have been more physically capable to handle things. It has been hard with the treatment failures. I am still here and I am working on staying here.

Fuck you, cancer.

On To New Treatments

I am at my cancer center awaiting my final session of the Adriamycin/Cytotoxen chemo combo. I was so nervous about starting chemo… and now I am rather sad to end it. This combo was aggressive and really helped control my (also aggressive) cancer. My last scans were showing me as stable. However, my bone scan is still scary as hell. I had a lesion on my liver that has shrunk considerably. The three tiny mets in my brain were totally blasted away by radiation therapy as was the tumor behind my eyeball. There are still traces of the tumor in my eye, but I was assured it was most likely dead and my bodily systems will eventually dispose of it.

Not only is this my last A/C treatment for now, it is my last A/C treatment for life. I have reached my lifetime limit of this particular poison. I found out that the same applies to radiation near eyes. I think I still have a small amount allowed.

Now, I will move on to either Taxol or Xeloda. These are both oral chemos. I believe they are a little less aggressive than A/C. Which will be kind of nice. A/C is hard on my white blood cells and hemoglobin. I am actually scheduled for a blood transfusion tomorrow night. I will be all sorts of pumped up on Friday. New blood + steroids = crazy active. My house will be spotless for a few days.

On other subjects, I have started to make jewelry again, and because of a neighbor’s cosplay, I am also getting back into my sewing. I love these hobbies and I had quit both of them due to the pain I was in before I was diagnosed two years ago. It feels really good to create things again. I am even making a creating space just for me. If you want to see a small sample of my jewelry, I have some of my pieces displayed in my Etsy shop. I am also currently working on a necklace. I am pretty excited about this necklace. It is really becoming beautiful. I believe that my jewelry kind of creates itself. I am just here to put the pieces together.

This summer has been a very good summer. I completely surprised my husband with a Violent Femmes concert in Portland. My two oldest boys had a fantastic time at Camp Kesem. My littler boys have been learning to swim and have become very good at that. I have connected with new people who are quickly becoming important to me. I will be ending my summer with a family camping trip, visits with a couple of new friends, and a new deck on the front of my house. I am hoping that a huckleberry-picking trip and another fishing expedition might fit in there somewhere.

Paris Part VI: Les Catacombs and Leaving

I am not sure which day this picture was taken. The name made me laugh. Extra Greek. I am guessing it was probably amazing, as it was always full. We ate dinner one night at the place next door, L’Atlas. It was tasty.

This was a Chinese restaurant that we did eat at. It was delicious, but I was still suffering from my anorexia and did not eat my whole meal. The poor waitress was really upset. I told her the meal was so good, but my body was having trouble with eating. I am not sure if she understood me. I felt pretty bad.

Now for the Catacombs.

May 25, 2017: Les Catacombs

Visiting the Catacombs was a learning experience. I underestimated the popularity of the bones placed under the city. I should have purchased advanced tickets. We wound up waiting in line for three hours. Once again, as I have mentioned in a few other posts, purchase advance tickets or “tours” of the tourist sites. The app I liked the most was Viator. Just make sure to plan out what sites you want to see before you leave as you will most likely need to print out the tickets. Most sites do not have a mobile check-in option.

Some flowers in the garden near the Catacomb entrance.

Gabriel wearing his handy dandy tourist vest.

I really like the buildings in Paris. I took a lot of pictures of homes, businesses, and Metro stations.

More flowers. We were by the garden for a very long time.

Pretty kitty. This was about two and a half hours in. We were close to the entrance

Finally. We made it in. There are a lot of stairs, then some tunnels. It was so cool in there. It felt really good after our long wait in the hot sun.

I don’t know why, but this sign made me giggle. It was for a small auditorium, but, to me, it looks like a guy surrounded by bowling balls.

The Catacombs are enormous. They have blocked off a number of other tunnels to keep people from getting lost. People still find other ways into other parts of the Catacombs and get lost. There are also a few levels. This gate is actually blocking a window looking down on a lower level. We walked under this window a little later.

The tunnels were naturally created by high ocean levels. This means that there are fossils in the walls and interesting shells have been found.

Shhh. I might have taken pictures, but I did not use a flash. I also did not pet the skulls.

Now, on to the part everyone is interested in. The bones. A little history:

This ossuary was created as place to deposit the remains of a mass grave in the Saint Innocents cemetery. The grave had started to break down and caused damage to some of the infrastructure around it.
It now houses approximately six million people from a few cemeteries. The remains were not always so organized. The bones were organized in a more visitable way in 1810 when the ossuary was renovated.
Public visits were largely limited to four tours per year. I believe they started to allow daily tours after Paris hosted the World’s Fair in 1900.

One of those closed off tunnels.

This was the only skull with teeth. It was also a slightly different color than the others.

Some of the sights we saw on our way back to our hotel.

This is something that I had also seen in Portugal in 1995. Saving the façade of the building, but putting up a more modern building behind it. I believe it allows the city to retain its classic charm without falling behind the times. Or having people fall through floors that are hundreds of years old.

I love French graffiti. Also, this little stone shack is adorable.

Our final dinner in Paris. My burger was delicious.

Our desserts were works of art. The top is some sort of ice cream with puff pastry deliciousness and the next one is a perfect crème brûlée.

May 26: Leaving Paris

 

Some pictures of the city as our taxi driver took us back to the airport.

At the airport. Even the stores in the airport have beautiful displays.

An airport art gallery.

Last selfie in Paris.

I started tearing up at this point. My Paris adventure was more than I had expected. I didn’t realize I was going to miss it, but I do.

Mount Rainier. We made it back to Seattle. We had also flown over the Tri-Cities. I was on the wrong side of the plane to get a picture of my neighborhood.

Made it home from Seattle.

Paris Part V: L’Arc de Triomphe (and some chemo stuff)

I am trying out something new today. I am writing on my blog using my tablet with an attached keyboard. This blog was actually the reason for the keyboard, but it has come in handy for emails and other things that require typing.

I am also starting this post while away from home. I am currently getting prepped to have my 4th chemotherapy.

Hi! I am wearing my Esprit shirt that I got in Paris.

And some pictures of my poisons. The red syringe is Adriamycin. The nurse pushes that in manually to make sure my blood return is good. This ensures that an IV needle hasn’t moved. I am using my port, so the needle moving is a moot point, but it is policy and I am fine with my nurses making sure the poison is going where it is supposed to go.

The top IV bag is filled with Cytotoxen. This bag will take at least an hour to empty. The bottom bag is saline.

Now on to the more fun stuff. Our visit to The Arch of Triumph.

May 24, 2017 L’Arc de Triomphe

Our day started with breakfast at Le Comptoir de l’Europe and a surprise for Gabriel.

Our friend, Jessie, is a flight attendant and was able to make time to visit us in Paris. We had not seen her in forever. It is kind of funny that it was easier to meet up with her in France than in the US. Our breakfast was so very good. I was still having issues with eating and I ate both eggs, the baguettes, and most of the other stuff put in front of me. I will forever believe that Paris healed my cancer-induced anorexia. J’adore Paris.

After breakfast, Jessie took a nap and we went off to do laundry. Our ticket for L’Arc was set for a few hours later. I tried to figure out how to ask where the laundromat was. I think my French translator has a snarky streak. See my Eiffel Tower post for another example.

As we walked to the nearest laundrette, we saw a wedding procession. I only got one good picture of a car as they came past the laundromat. They were decorated with beautiful bouquets.

We sat in a decent café across the street while our laundry washed and dried.

They sold hand-made sausages.

We had enough time to meander/get lost on our way back to the hotel. I took a few pictures of the church and some other buildings that caught my eye.

As always, there was music in the Metro tunnels. Paris really spoiled me with music playing everywhere.

The Arch is impressive. As it was meant to be. Napoleon had commissioned it after a victory and it was completed in 1836.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The view from the top was breathtaking. Gabriel and I are in agreement that we preferred this view to the one from the Eiffel Tower. However, I still enjoyed our Eiffel Tower visit.

Here is a picture of the crazy traffic in Paris.

And my favorite picture of Gabriel and me.

There was a display of various parts of statues that were not used on the outside of the Arc once it was completed. My favorite is Alexander the Great. I think he looks offended. I also like his little head dragon.

I guess I was looking sickly that day. The guard checking us in had us use the lift rather than the stairs. Honestly, I was grateful. We had a lot of walking planned for the day. I did take the spiral stairs down. I was dizzy by the time I got to the bottom. I wasn’t the only one. More than a few people had to stop partway to get their bearings.

When we got to the bottom, we discovered a memorial service was starting. We stayed for a bit, but we felt it was something personal and did not want to intrude.

Something that I haven’t really mentioned was the military presence in Paris. It was unnerving at first, but I got used to seeing these young men.

We wandered along Champs-Elysees and window shopped all the stores from which we couldn’t afford a tissue. We also paid our respects at the memorial to the three officers who were killed on April 20, 2017.

We meandered around the area and found a café. The waiter was a grumpy old man. I liked him. He did soften up to us after a crazy woman from Brazil sat down near us. We were not as demanding or as nuts as she was. When we paid up, he very sternly reminded us that he did not want a tip.

A note on tipping:

I am not sure about other countries, but in France, it is considered an insult to leave a tip. The wait staff are paid very well and do not need extra money to make a livable wage. Mind blowing.

We also had dinner near the Champs-Elysees. I really enjoyed my food, but the wait staff were not so friendly and refused our cards. Luckily, we had enough Euros between the three of us to pay for dinner.

We walked back to our hotel rather than take the Metro. I took pictures of shoes because I really love shoes.

And this old taxi.

And, finally, this is some artwork that we saw almost everyday. It is in a busy square that has a Metro, train station, grocery store, and mall. During the day, it is always filled with people and food carts.

It was a good day.

Paris Part IV: La Tour Eiffel

If you go to Paris, you almost have to visit the iconic building that is used to symbolize not just the city, but the country of France. For the big tourist attractions, such as The Eiffel Tower, I highly recommend purchasing tour guide tickets well ahead of time. I used Viator to look up events and tickets. With a tour guide for the Eiffel Tower, you get around the crowd and head right on up.

May 23, 2017

We started our day with the most amazing pastries and, of course, caffe. My pastry was a flaky, delicate, almond thing. It just kind of melts in your mouth. I wish I had taken a picture of what it is called. I still fondly think of this pastry. Gabriel had an eclair and something that seemed to be a doughnut cupcake.

Gabriel had injured himself the day before. Which I am sure will surprise anyone who knows him. He is allergic to band aids, so we usually use gauze and medical tape for his wounds. We stopped at the pharmacy on our way to the metro to see about getting tape and gauze. We tried to explain to the cashier what we were looking for and she was very confused. She also seemed slightly offended. In the end, she found an amazing solution for Gabriel. It is a sort of band aid spray called Urgo. It was exactly what he needed. I also figured out why the cashier seemed a little offended. The word “tape” is a little different in French.

Our transit to the Eiffel Tower was a double-decker. I thought this was pretty neat. The seats were very comfortable and it was mostly empty.

We arrived a few hours early for our tour, so we decided to explore a little. We walked across the river and wandered around an area that had some pretty little shady parks and seemed to be the home to foreign embassies. 

I can not express how hard it was for me to get up these stairs. But I did it.

I find Paris graffiti beautiful.

Athena in a park.

We had a snack at the Paris Museum of Modern Art. The outside eating area was beautiful.

This was right next to the Museum of Modern Art. I believe it was part of the Palais de Tokyo.

Chichis. Which are sort of like churros.

Now we are back at the Tower. We are waiting outside for our tour (not realizing the tour starts about two blocks away). While we were waiting, some scammers tried to engage us. We pretended not to understand, but they would not leave us alone. I found out after we walked away (when I realized our meeting spot was elsewhere) that someone had attempted to get into my backpack. I had tied up it pretty good and am glad that I did so.

This is our very kind and sweet guide.

The lifts are almost like a really crowded, slow roller coaster.

When we got to the second level, the guide gave us a brief history on the Tower and explained the different colors the Tower had been. It has been repainted every 7 years. There are discussions going on now about what color the next one will be.

We went around the second level and took a few pictures.

It was incredibly crowded. We went up to the top level and took more pictures. I love the “secret office” of Monsieur Eiffel. The champagne bar was also a fun touch.

The buildings were so small at this height that Paris almost looked like a model of a city.

 

After our visit to la tour Eiffel, we meandered back towards our hotel. If I recall correctly, our trip back was not nearly as comfortable. It was the end of the work day and all the trains and metros were packed. I almost did not get off at our stop; I was crushed against a pole.

We ended the day eating something amazing and I had my new favorite drink.

When Treatments Fail

In the year and half since my metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, I have been on three treatments. As my cancer has invaded my skeleton, it is really hard to track it properly. We use nuclear bone scans, CT scans, and tumor markers aka cancer antigens or, for me, CA 27.29. Tumor markers are an imprecise way to keep track of spreading cancer. However, if they continue to go up, there is usually something going on, even if the scans are showing stability.

Tamoxifen and radiation were my first line of attack. My scans remained stable and my markers went down. For seven months. Then my markers suddenly shot up and continued going up. In April 2017, I started my second line of treatment, Ibrance w/ Letrozole. Once again, my scans were mostly stable and my markers dropped, but just a small amount. By February 2018, it was clear that this treatment wasn’t working well for me. We replaced the Letrozole with Faslodex injections. This combination did not work at all for me.

I am going to take an intermission here to explain nuclear bone scans. These scans are really fascinating. At least to me. About 6 hours before the actual scan, I am injected with a dose of radioactive tracer. I believe it is technetium 99 (Tc99). The techs always tell me that I am safe around people, but I do give off radiation. My husband has measured it in the past. After this injection, I need to drink a lot of water and pee as much as I can. This helps to get rid of the radiation that did not stick to my bones.
During the scan, I can see my skeleton appear on a screen as the scanner passes over me. Or I could if I was able to wear my glasses. People who come with me to the scan can watch my skeleton. The scanner itself reminds me of an iron and the surface I lay on looks a lot like and ironing board. The scan gets really up close to my face to start with. I usually close my eyes, which usually leads to me falling asleep for most of the scan. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour. I get in a nice power nap.

Back to treatment failures.

My last bone scan was on March 23. It showed progression of cancer in my left leg and slight progression on my skull. My CT scan on March 26 showed cancer lesions are now on my liver. I had really high hopes for Ibrance. It, and other 4/6 inhibitors, have been almost like a miracle treatment for many people living with MBC. My disappointment is indescribable. I had expected to be on Ibrance for at least 3 years. I got in 12 cycles/12 months.

I am now preparing to start IV chemotherapy for the first time. The chemo combination I have agreed to go with is Adriamycin with Carboplatin. My sessions will be one day every three weeks for four sessions. I hope that makes sense. It looks like each session will take at least two and a half hours.
I will be losing my hair again, but I don’t mind. Actually, I will also lose my eyelashes and eyebrows. I did lose half of my lashes and brows on the left side from radiation on my outer left eye orbital. That was hard. I am not a vain person, but I hated seeing my lashes look so ragged. It was also painful getting lashes in my eye. I might start working on drawing eyebrows. I have failed miserably in the past when I have tried to do this.
I will also be getting Granix injections for about 5 days in a row after my sessions. My white blood cells will completely tank on me. Granix will help them to come back faster. These are shots in the belly, which I do kind of mind.

Before starting chemo, I will be getting an echocardiogram to make sure my heart can handle this. I will also be getting a brain MRI due to dizzy spells. I am not normally an anxious person, but this on top of the changes has got me on edge. I guess my anxiety coping mechanism is cleaning. My upstairs living room is almost spotless. As spotless as four kids and two dogs will allow it to be. My basement living room is almost as clean. My kitchen is still a mess, but my dishes are as caught up as they can be. Those who know me know how miraculous this is. I will be mopping my kitchen tomorrow and setting up an Easter themed table cloth on the table.

Emotionally, I am feeling furious right now. It’s kind of like having a furnace in the pit of my stomach. And I don’t want it to get low or go away. I was angry like this after my diagnosis and I thought it was the right thing to try to ease that anger. I have a right to my fury. There is nothing about this that is ok. Cancer fucking sucks. It sucks for me, for my family, and for my friends.

If you wish to help me as I get used to my new path, I am currently accepting all forms of good vibes, positive energy, prayer, and good thoughts. I will also accept silly things that make me laugh and distract me.

Paris Part III: Churches and Walking

On Monday, May 22, we spent the day mostly walking. My mother wanted me to go to La Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse on Rue du Bac. So, we decided to make this day a more leisurely day and walk around Paris. We took the Metro to an area near Rue du Bac. It was obviously not a usual tourist spot. No big shops. Not many people.

We did come across a sock/stocking (la chaussette) shop. I bought a pair of beautiful socks and a pair of tights. They were knitted with amazing designs and colors. I am pretty sure the shop was Boutique Gerard.

We made it to the chapel. We only took one picture while in there. It was a very pretty chapel and we had arrived just as a mass was starting. I was given a shawl to cover my shoulders as my dress had spaghetti straps. This chapel has some interesting history. It is where the miraculous medal comes from that many Catholics wear. St. Catherine had visions of this medal and she was able to have them created. They are now found worldwide.

After the mass, we meandered around some the back streets on a path that led towards Notre Dame. We ate at a wonderful little pub, saw some charming stores, and officers on horseback. One of them posed for me.

The Bon Marche we had in our town was never so grand as this and did not have an armed guard at the door. We did not go in here.

Dinosaur graffiti. *love*

A centaur weapon creature.

A restaurant with a lot of vines.

After walking along the smaller streets, our first view of Notre Dame was a little awe-inspiring. Gabriel had been a little reluctant to visit the Cathedral, but he was glad that I had dragged him to it. It was much more impressive than he had imagined it to be.

Experiencing this beautiful building is something that needs to be done in person. I can post as many pictures as I please, but the artistry is somewhat lost in the pictures. I did my best:

After exploring Notre Dame, we wandered around the area before heading back to our hotel. We listened to a talented violinist and allowed a street vendor to talk us into having our caricatures drawn.

 

Paris Part II: Le Louvre

I took most of my 700 pictures at Le Louvre. I have had a lot of trouble deciding how many and which ones to share. I love art museums and The Louvre has a special place in my heart. It not only displays artworks, but it is itself a work of art. We spent three days of our trip exploring the museum and we still didn’t see everything. So, this post is mostly just going to be a ton of pictures.

Day 1: Saturday May 20

We took a lot of time browsing through Greek statues and le Pavillon de l’Horloge.

 

Day 2: Sunday May 21

Sundays seem to be a day filled with music in Paris. There is always music, but there was a lot more music on Sunday than on the other days. We kept the window open in our hotel room while we slept and we were woken up by piano music. Music echoed throughout the Metro halls as we made our way to the museum. Once we got to le Louvre, there was a huge group of people dancing in a courtyard across from the museum. We bought crepes at a vendor and watched them dance. I got some pictures of them from one of the Louvre windows on the second floor.

This photo was taken a couple of hours after we had first seen them. There were about three times as many people when we had first gotten to this area.

There were also mimes at the Louvre when we got there. Fucking clowns.

The caffè was delicious, then we started on our second day.

Our third day at the Louvre was a few days after the first two. I decided to just put our Louvre visits on one post.

Day 3: Thursday May 25

A couple of days before, I had surprised Gabriel with a secret meetup with an old friend. Jessica had been to Paris many times, but had never gone to the Louvre. Or L’Arc de Triomphe. Or many other very touristy places. We had a lot of fun dragging her around with us.

Music on the Metro.

A young artist sketching. It made my heart happy to see this boy so involved in his artwork.

Probably my favorite selfie.

MySpace-style picture with an extremely antique mirror.

I have an obsession with teapots. I love them.

Marie Antoinette surrounded herself with very strange things. This dog was one of the items she kept in her rooms.

Obligatory viewing of the Mona Lisa.

 

These pictures were among my favorites. It was really difficult to figure out which ones to use. I have taken my time in going through them. It makes me happy to revisit this trip. I may have extended this blog post just because I really have enjoyed looking through these pictures over and over.

Paris Part I

Excited for our second honeymoon.

This is really just about our flight and arrival in Paris. Our trip took about 14 hours altogether. We had a quick flight to Seattle, then a layover for somewhere around four hours. The flight from Seattle to Paris was about 9.5 hours.

When we arrived in Seattle, we were just too exhausted to do much more than just sit and eat a small breakfast. Then we sat some more. An exciting beginning, I know.

Our flight was finally ready for boarding, so I put on my awesome face mask. My white blood cells had been so low the week before this trip, that my oncologist had me get two shots of Neulasta to get my WBC up to a more normal range. Or at least out of the very dangerous range I was in. My count went down due to a new treatment I had started. I will probably write about that in another post.

Anyway, my new mask is quite pretty. It does get warm, but it does not fog up my glasses like the paper ones do. It has an N99 rating, which means it should keep out 99% of contaminants. For those who are curious, it is a Cambridge Mask Company in the Austen style.

The Austen by Cambridge Masks

Side note: medical masks make people nervous on airplanes. Or at least a lot of people give you strange looks. Whatever. I am not getting your dirty germs today, bitches!

Our flight was 9 1/2 hours of sleeplessness. We did try to sleep, but the sick baby two rows behind and to the side of us was super miserable and let everyone know it. The poor guy had a terrible cough (I was super thankful for my mask) and he just cried for the entire flight. Which also caused all of babies in our area to wail for the entire flight. So no sleeping.

We were not near a window seat, but I did get a few outside pictures of Mount Rainier.

Otherwise, I had a selection of shows and movies to view. Which I didn’t. I spent my time playing silly games and reading The MagiciansI got up a few times to walk around. I watched our trip as we advanced over Canada, then Greenland, skimming past Iceland, going over Scotland and England, to finally arrive in Paris.

It was a relief to get off of the plane. However, our journey was not done yet. We took the train to a Metro station, the Metro to a stop near our hotel, then we walked with our suitcases to Hotel ATN. We got turned around while trying to find the correct Metro. We looked like obvious tourists, but a young man took pity on us and helped us find the one that would take us where we needed to go.

We were greeted at the hotel by cute statues and a really nice woman. The nice woman told us we could not check in yet. It was about 11 am and we needed to wait until at least 2 pm.

So, we wandered around and had lunch. We still aren’t sure what Gabriel had. It was mislabeled as Quiche. It was some sort of ham and grilled cheese sandwich with more cheese fried on the outside. I was still having a few issues with nausea, so I just had strawberries. While we were wandering around, I admired the buildings. Even the fast food places are fancy.

I had my first taste of all the random Paris art that can be found everywhere. The artwork became one of my favorite things about walking around Paris while we were there.

After a few hours, we went back to our hotel and checked in. The rooms are very chic and adorable. Our window looked down into a small square. I had images of women who might have washed and dried their laundry in this square with children running and playing around them. Everything is so old that this could be a possibility of the area’s past.

The ceiling

The courtyard.

We pretty much crashed after getting our luggage into the room. We did wake up a few hours later to eat dinner at the little bistro at the end of our block, Le Comptoire de l’Europe. It became our favorite place to eat. I always ate almost everything that was served to me. It was one of the first places that had me actually enjoying food again.

We went back to sleep after dinner. We had some big adventures planned for the morning.

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