64 In Women Now

Going through the fire together

Fighting breast cancer
September 2004

I’ve been thinking about a few funny stories I could tell you about going through cancer treatment; it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month after all and I am qualified. Now I’m thinking they may have to wait for another time.

Remind me sometime to tell you the one about fainting in my client’s closet and waking up to all these gorgeous EMT guys, shooing them away and demanding Russ. “I just need Russ. Call Russ.”

Or the one where Russ and I were going to a birthday party where all his old work buddies were going to be, and I forgot to wear my prostheses. I only noticed it when I got home and was changing my clothes. I marched into the living room. “Russ!” I said. “Do you notice anything different about me? How could you let me leave the house without my other boob?”

They’re hilarious.

Secretly waiting for the awareness month to be over

As I look at the calendar and see October slipping away, I’m somewhat relieved. Mostly, I try not to think about cancer. It makes it hard when an entire month is devoted to it, and everyone participates. There are newspaper articles, magazine features, TV segments, televised sports games with all those pink tennis shoes. I appreciate the fight for the cure, but personally, all that focus is rattling.

Cancer rattles the whole family

There’s no one more aware of breast cancer than someone who’s gone through it. Or the loved ones who stand close by the whole time. Whether you’re currently engaged with treatment or you’re surviving it, it’s never far away.

Anything that seems a little “off” could be a sign that something’s wrong and cancer is back or bigger or somewhere new. Meditation, prayer, being in nature–all of those things help, but anxiety can flare up so quickly.

Treatments are cropping up all the time

Yes, there are new treatments all the time. That’s something to look forward to. I sure have. First diagnosed in 2004, I went eight years before I had a recurrence.

About three years ago, my doctor switched my treatment to the newest, latest wonder drug. It was specific to my type of breast cancer. Yay! All her colleagues in the cancer center were seeing remarkable results.

Sign me up.

You know all those side effects that appear on drug labels? Most likely, you won’t experience them, but they have to tell you. I’m pretty much a champ when it comes to dealing with side effects. I’m tough.

When treatment has its own risks

Five days after my exposure to that fabulous new drug Caitlin was in my office doing bookkeeping and admin for my business. I wasn’t feeling so good. A couple of hours went by when she said, “Get your coat. I’m taking you to the doctor.”

We got there and they drew some blood to test. The doctor came into the room with the results. “You have every side effect but death,” she said. The numbers relating to liver function were astronomically high. Where one reading should have been around 36, mine was 636. There were two more liver readings in the same ratio. She sent me home to ride it out.

I canceled every client’s appointment for the week and stayed home. I could barely move. Days went by, and I hadn’t thought of fashion even once. Apparently, that’s my quality of life meter. I remember thinking that if fashion wasn’t in my life, I didn’t want to be in it either. It’s my love, my livelihood, my creative outlet. I’ve written five books about it. It’s my joie de vivre.

Fashion came back

That North Dakota resilience kicked in, and in a few days, I wanted to get dressed. I opened my closet and felt uplifted. My clothing friends were making suggestions: Want to wear me? Want to wear me today?

I don’t take months or years for granted. My current situation is that I have an excellent quality of life. In every decision my doctor and I make together, it’s that quality of life that we’re protecting. I do undergo totally manageable treatments–no side effects! In my last doctor’s visit, I asked her if one time I’ll have a CT scan result and it will show a decrease in disease. “Not likely,” she said. We’re happy with the status quo, and if things change dramatically, well, we’ll assess.

The fires are top of mind

Right now, in Sonoma County, the Kincade Fire is swallowing up more acres each day. Russ and I have prepared for outages and evacuations. We went through both of those in the fires of 2017.

We have electrical power, and on Sunday, I was puttering around the house with an ear to the high winds blowing outside. I met Russ in the hallway and said, “One thing I’m really grateful for is …” but before I finished my sentence, he interrupted and said, “That we’re together.” I don’t remember what I was going to say. Together, we said it all.

Finding a photo from back then

I used the afternoon to do some home decorating for fall. There was an empty spot that could use some family photos. I went to a woven basket where I keep framed photos that I’m not currently using.

I pulled out this one and held it in my hands. All I saw was Russ and me, playfulness and love. We were at the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor in Richmond. We were attending the celebration service for Mikey, a close family friend who died from stomach cancer at the age of 24.

Even though Mikey was sick at the time, when he heard I’d been diagnosed, he was the first to call me. He offered encouragement and resources. “Brenda, you’re so lucky. They know so much more about breast cancer than they do about stomach cancer. You’re in good hands.”

What I wore that day

I love what I was wearing that day: a polka dot flowy skirt that graced my ankles, a tank top with a shelf bra so I could slide in my prosthesis on the left side. My skin was too sensitive to wear a conventional bra because of the radiation burns. Over the camisole was my sheer Eileen Fisher black short jacket that I buttoned up. I wore a belt (that I can’t wear now), suede heeled sandals, and a hat. (I wore that same Eileen Fisher sheer jacket a couple of weeks ago!)

I love how Russ took that moment to take my hat off and rub my fuzzy head.

Togetherness 15 years later

Russ was watching the news when I showed him this framed photo. He said, “Ohh, how sweet! I like this.” He wanted to keep it out.

That was 15 years ago. What’s remarkable is that I look at this photo now, and I don’t see cancer. I see togetherness.

I don’t know if it brought back memories for him, but I remembered what came before that picture was taken. We’d been dating for a year and what a year that was! Fun, sexy, lovely, amazing, no defined plans for the future. We were enjoying our good fortune at finding each other. I was 50, and I’d been given another chance at love.

It was January 29th, my father’s birthday in 2004 when I got the news. I was meeting Russ at his house, my heart breaking over what I was about to report.

I gave him the facts as I knew them and then said, “If you want to leave, I totally honor that. This is asking a lot of you. We’ve had a year of fun and we could end it here. I’m not sure if the roles were reversed if I could handle what’s ahead.” I loved him, and I wanted to spare him.

I’m tough and independent. I’d get through this somehow.

He said, “Brenda, don’t ever say that again. We’ll get through this together.”

So here we are this week in our Sonoma home, making our getaway plans if we need to leave in haste. We’re hugging and kissing a bit more than usual, as we face the unknown together.

What gets you through the fires in your life?

XO

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64 Comments

  • Reply
    Susa Berg
    October 30, 2019 at 4:03 am

    Brenda, with tears in my eys I read this post. Let me say, it is a very touching post that I will never forget, if hard times will again reach me (and I’m sure they will someday). I’m similar closely to my Love and we have a great together. He had cancer three and a half year ago and since them, our world had changed. We are closer than ever.

    Keep the fire on distance, stay healthy, we need your style advice, all the best for you and Russ

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Curtis
    October 30, 2019 at 4:10 am

    Such a beautiful post. My husband stayed with me and cherished me when I thought, but didn’t voice the fact, that he might leave. Strangely he said some 5 years later that he was scared that I might ask him to go!
    I thought of you immediately when I read about the reoccurrence of the fires in Sonoma. Stay safe together. Jackie X

    • Reply
      Lesley
      October 30, 2019 at 7:36 am

      What an inspiration you are on so many levels! No matter what comes you & Russ will come out fine, you’re together. Be safe

      • Reply
        Brenda
        October 30, 2019 at 9:39 am

        Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Kathy
    October 30, 2019 at 4:25 am

    Brenda, reading about your journey brought tears to my eyes, and touched my heart. Your resilience, courage, and strength are an inspiration. Russ sounds like an amazing man, and with him by your side, you can get through anything.
    I love your blog, and your style. I look forward to all your great fashion tips, and enjoy seeing all the joy your new granddaughter brings to you.
    Praying that the fires subside very soon, and that you and your family stay safe!

  • Reply
    Pamela Vanaman
    October 30, 2019 at 4:38 am

    Tears also, after eight years of my heart breaking for my Daughter that didn’t make it, the fire that burns in me and keeps me going is all the love and the gratitude of having had her under my heart and now in my heart.

    • Reply
      Anne
      October 30, 2019 at 2:37 pm

      How precious, and I’m sorry for your loss. How wonderful that gratitude is a key to get you through your sorrow. Please hold on to that.

      • Reply
        Brenda
        October 31, 2019 at 10:49 am

        Thank you, Anne. Gratitude certainly is a good tool and it’s always available.

  • Reply
    Diane B
    October 30, 2019 at 5:18 am

    Brenda, I just want to wrap you in the biggest hug. You give so much comfort to others and you need it all sent back with love. Russ was the best man you could have found for your second act. That picture shows so much more than the two of you, the affection just radiates. I do know what you mean about the side effects, Seems like some of us are just more susceptible and it really sucks. Thanks to you for letting us in on such private emotions. We are so glad you are here.

  • Reply
    Deboah
    October 30, 2019 at 5:21 am

    I follow your style posts and had NO idea of your breast cancer surviving story. Thank you for sharing. Keep those you love close and safe.

  • Reply
    Alice
    October 30, 2019 at 5:21 am

    You. You got me through the fire. You are always welcome in Minnesota where there are no wildfires and it is still above freezing. Thank you for sharing your story. Be well.❤️

    • Reply
      Brenda
      November 8, 2019 at 8:16 am

      It warmed my heart to read this. That’s still such a great turn of events–your sister sharing the blog, you discovering it at such a low point. And how you found healing there and wrote to me and we got to meet in Fergus Falls, MN. Your words and thoughts have quite a reach. Thank you, Alice!

      If anyone missed the post I wrote about meeting Alice, you’ll want to check it out. It certainly fits into this discussion.
      http://www.brendakinsel.com/finding-style-and-making-outfits-helped-alice-get-through-the-worst-year-ever/

  • Reply
    Martha
    October 30, 2019 at 5:30 am

    The most beautiful post! Sending love, hugs, and blessings to you and Russ.

  • Reply
    Kathy Kolar
    October 30, 2019 at 5:51 am

    Brenda, my tennis partner and I are both bc survivors. On the court earlier this month, we had the same conversation about the difficulty of getting through the month- I thought my feelings were unique to me, but obviously they are not!

  • Reply
    Sue
    October 30, 2019 at 5:53 am

    What a wonderful post. And a good one to read this morning as my husband and I head off to the hospital for my his first chemotherapy session for pancreatic cancer. As I dressed this morning I purposefully chose something that would signal health and wholeness to my spirit.

  • Reply
    Diane
    October 30, 2019 at 6:28 am

    What a beautiful posting! Love to you both.

  • Reply
    Robbi
    October 30, 2019 at 6:42 am

    What a beautiful post! It brought tears to my eyes. And, so I reread it! Currently I’m going through some “fires”, and I have found that the best way to manage is day by day, sometimes moment by moment. It is still possible to find joy during “fires”. Sending love to you!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 30, 2019 at 9:52 am

      Good for you. I wrote myself a note one day and keep it on my bulletin board. It says, “I’m fine now. Maybe I’ll stay that way.” It keeps me in the moment as we all know how fast fear can tear into our minds. I appreciate your comment!!

  • Reply
    Linda B
    October 30, 2019 at 6:51 am

    Thank you so much for this post full of such life wisdom, and personal sharing. May you continue to find this amazing strength in yourself and in Russ, and may medical science continue to maintain and improve your life! I also hope that fire stays away from you. (I say these things with understanding born from somewhat similar life experiences, having a husband with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and having grown up with Santa Ana fueled wild fires in So Cal. So I get it.) Stay safe. . . and stay in love!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 30, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Thanks, Linda. I take your words to heart! On the fire note, I lived in LA for 5 years and I remember those October Santa Ana winds. Fierce. Thanks for your caring shared thoughts.

    • Reply
      Trinnie Q
      November 7, 2019 at 5:18 pm

      How beautiful, and brave are you ! Thanks for your courage and sharing… As always.. Sending love from Oz x

  • Reply
    Susan Blakey
    October 30, 2019 at 6:56 am

    Oh Brenda, what a sweet and touching post! You’ve been through so much and have come through it together. I have my fingers crossed that the worst of the fire danger is over.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 30, 2019 at 9:47 am

      Yes, we have. Thanks, Susan. Really, we should remember the strength we’ve had to get through challenges when I’m trying to get him to take Instagram photos for me! We can do this! That Getty Fire is looking more serious than when I first contacted you. Stay safe!

  • Reply
    Laura Lamar
    October 30, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Brenda, I have been following you just recently and many times wished I could share an outfit or insight. We live just up Sonoma Valley from you in Oakmont, and are often in Sonoma. I always keep my eyes peeled, hoping I’ll see you! This week we are riding out the fires, evacuations, and power outages staying at Sonoma Mission Inn. Not to make light of this tragic and frightening event, but I thought you’d get a kick out of the fact that I have two go bags: one for sleeping in the car at an evacuation center, and one that is much more fashionable, in case we’re able to get a room at a hotel or resort, as we are this time. Fashion keeps my joy and hope alive! And when we make our daily runs home to check that all is still OK, we decorate! Even with the power out, we can sweep, move some art or accessories around, and show our house some love. And that’s really what it takes to survive cancer, or fires…love, and some joy. Thank you for sharing yours!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 30, 2019 at 9:46 am

      I love your two go bags! I understand completely. Instead of looking for me in Sonoma, we should have tea. I have loved the decorating I did this week. It’s something I love to do but haven’t done much of for months. I’m with you on that. I loved your share!

    • Reply
      Trinnie Q
      October 31, 2019 at 11:09 pm

      You darling brave woman…Sending love to you and yours… May angels keep you all safe … from Oz

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    October 30, 2019 at 6:58 am

    Thank you Brenda, for honoring this month with your authentic story in the midst of concerns of the fires raging near your home. You have been on my mind and in my heart. Hope you are safe and stay that way. I too am a breast cancer survivor. 23 years. I have felt the tragedy and sadness of this beast called cancer in my life. I am a fourth generation cancer, here I won’t use the term “victim”, because I survived, survivor. Of eight siblings, six sisters, two brothers, I lost two sisters to the beast, and all but one sister has dealt with it. My maternal side of the family loses at least one member a year to this ravaging pest. In my lifetime, 22 female relatives have succumbed to its thievery.
    I don’t know why God has chosen to keep me here when others have passed, but I am grateful and don’t take the gift of life lightly.
    My chosen personal ministry is to encourage women to feel loved and validated, needed and necessary. Cancer sometimes takes that away from you. I refuse to let it or any of life do that. Even my lopsized figure profile. (I got knitted knockers from a suggestion in one of your blogs! Thank you!) I am not merely the size and shape of my breasts. My “girls” don’t define me. They remind me. Love life. LIVE LIFE. so every once in a while when my clothes don’t hang quite right, I ‘m reminded that at least I have a body, a healthy body to hang them on!
    Going through the fires that life takes you through, makes you stronger, adds to character and makes the reasons for living and life choices that more poignant.
    To all the women out there touched by cancer or any struggle, Don’t give up.
    Hugs to you Brenda. And safekeeping to you and yours near those raging fires. And many thanks to you from all us women for you and your story, your caring and your encouragement. Godspeed.
    Liz from CT

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 30, 2019 at 9:43 am

      Liz, I’m moved to tears. I love your attitude and your message to others: don’t give up. I’d add to that for women going through treatments: find beauty, be around beauty, bathe yourself in beauty. It’s an antidote to the rest of it and it works. What family stories you have!Thanks for your strong message.

  • Reply
    Janet
    October 30, 2019 at 7:29 am

    What a lovely story to read this morning! Your love and togetherness is inspiring and uplifting. The cancer journey has so many surprises, the greatest one for my Russ and me was the increase in tenderness in our relationship. And, yay, we all made it through last night with no evacuation, thank you firefighters all!!
    Hugs and love to you.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 30, 2019 at 9:40 am

      Yes, yay! Maybe you’ll get power soon. We love our Russ’, don’t we?

  • Reply
    Maura
    October 30, 2019 at 8:35 am

    I’ll be celebrating my 18 anniversay of fining my breast cancer in January 2020. I remember every moment and proceeure from then until now. I ended up haveing a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. But I had to have a tissue expander to create a new left breast. I worked with a large number of male engineers. My first day back I put a filler in my temporary mastectomy bra. It hurt. The next day I said forget it. If my co-workers couldn’t deal with my breast cancer, that was their problem, not mine. Tomorrow I have my annual check-up with my oncologist for my cancer markers. December is my annual mamogram. I know that I’ll never be “cured”. My doctors say that I have no evidence of disease. I say I’m a NED. I live with the thoughts of it coming back. I live with the breast cancer genie whispering to me and living on my shoulder. My heart goes out to you. I don’t let breast cancer define who I am. And you don’t either!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 30, 2019 at 9:39 am

      Yes, I’m with you. It’s not how I’m defined and probably why I’ve never spoken much about it till now. It’s interesting how the story of that picture isn’t cancer when I look at it. I find that photo to be so comforting and joyous. Who knew?

  • Reply
    Jane
    October 30, 2019 at 8:36 am

    What an inspirational post! Such a lovely way to start my day here in Napa.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 30, 2019 at 9:36 am

      Stay safe, my neighbor.

  • Reply
    Barb
    October 30, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this touching post. I love that love, family, togetherness and faith define you. Thank you for teaching your readers how to dress and how to live! I look forward to many more posts!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 30, 2019 at 9:35 am

      Thank you, Barb. Yes, those are my cornerstones. I appreciate you!

  • Reply
    Monique Arends
    October 30, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Thank you for your beautiful post. Tears are running down my cheeks. Two years ago my perfectly healthy 34 year old son was diagnosed with braincancer. He died 6 month later. I still can’t believe he’s gone. But as your young friend said, be glad there’s so much information and research on breast cancer, there’s very little on brain cancer. I’m thankfull for having had such a kind and beautiful child an a very supportive and loving husband (his step father). Hang in there and stay safe.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 30, 2019 at 9:35 am

      And tears are now flowing over here in Sonoma. There are so many variations of cancer and your family witnessed one of the worst. I’m so so sorry. I’m glad you have those great memories and your wonderful husband. Sending you a family hug that includes your son. I know he is close no matter what.
      xx

  • Reply
    Chari Farin
    October 30, 2019 at 9:38 am

    I’m so glad you have Russ in your life. Even more so that he is willing to stay by your side to see you through your challenges. That is worth everything. Right now my husband of 7 years is in health crisis and in the rehab hospital. He had a brain tumor removed 2 years ago so we are pretty familiar with the routine. Hopefully, he will come home on Saturday. I try to give him the quality of care I would want if the roles were reversed. I wish all the best for you and really appreciate your willingness to share your story with us.

  • Reply
    Bess
    October 30, 2019 at 9:43 am

    BK, you and your family are an inspiration to me. You are an incredibly special and wonderful human, navigating your life on your own terms, and with incredible grace and honesty.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 31, 2019 at 11:03 am

      Oh Bess, thank you for your beautiful words. Love you!

  • Reply
    Vicky
    October 30, 2019 at 10:29 am

    What an amazing story…. we never know the traits and turns….. trials and rewards that will face us… often when things seem grimmest …an event occurs or special person lightens the load. My mother’s motto was “ Perseverance “ mine is “ Don’t Postpone Happiness “……..Isn’t Life Beautiful.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 31, 2019 at 11:06 am

      I love your mother’s word. It’s good to have the wisdom of our elders. My folks helped me along so much with their wit and their wise words. #blessed

  • Reply
    Becky Smith
    October 30, 2019 at 10:57 am

    Beautifully written – thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 31, 2019 at 11:07 am

      Thanks, Becky. I appreciate that.

  • Reply
    Patricia
    October 30, 2019 at 11:41 am

    A truly beautiful story, Brenda. Thank you for sharing it. Stay well and safe.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 31, 2019 at 11:09 am

      Thanks, Patricia. Today there’s good news about containment on the fire. It feels like this one is out of the woods although those people who lost everything are just beginning a long journey. Thank you for your message.

  • Reply
    jess
    October 30, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    what a lovely and corageous story. Russ is a keeper. That is real love that gets deeper with time. in our culture we celebrate youthful, romantic love, that is fun and exciting and often perilous. But mature love stories don’t get the same attention, yet they can be far deeper and more moving. had no idea you were going through all this Brenda. Stay safe and well.

  • Reply
    Heidi
    October 30, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Brenda, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I’m so glad you have Russ to shoulder some of the burdens and lift your spirit with love and affection. You have a relationship to admire and one I aspire to emulate! I hope the fires will be controlled soon, and that you won’t face any further danger from them. So scary.
    My sister in law lost her battle with breast cancer in April. The family never mentions it, or her, ever. Perhaps it’s too soon , I don’t know. My husband had cancer 12 years ago, he tried to fight it alone, but I was there with him and did everything I could to help him through and keep him comfortable and feeling loved. To this day he will not talk about his experience, or OUR experience, and has not been the same person since. I often wonder, if the tables were turned, how he would respond and whether or not he would be able to provide support and comfort to me. It has changed the way I see our relationship and my future with him (after 30years together). I’m still not sure what to do about it, but I take things a day at a time and know an answer will come to me. Sadly, dealing with cancer is a battle that can destroy more than your health.
    Stay safe and healthy,
    Xo
    Heidi

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 31, 2019 at 11:01 am

      Heidi, it’s so true. No one can predict how people will be around this subject. Regarding your sister, it may be too soon. I sympathize with you. It’s tough. Glad you came here to share. Praying for healing all around. You’ve got my love!

  • Reply
    Sandi
    October 30, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    You have no idea what this article meant to me today! I had my mammogram this morning and you have been on my mind so much lately with those awful fires around you. I laughed out loud and got tears from your heartfelt words. Love you & look forward to your next visit. Hi to Russ too.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 31, 2019 at 10:51 am

      Oh, Sandi, I thought of you while writing this as well as others I know who have been there or are there now. You’re such a proponent for health. I admire you! Love to Paul and yes, if I can manage a trip in the winter, you’ll see me in Fargo…all bundled up per your suggestions!

  • Reply
    Gayle
    October 30, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    What a great post! Perspective. You are beautiful now, as then, but you look so vibrant and stylish today! I am a 24 year ovarian cancer survivor, I am thrilled to be here and lead a full, happy life with my husband of 55 years❤️. The side effect of my cancer: 6 major abdominal surgeries, large incisional hernias and scar tissue. I have a destended belly and always wear a full shirt or jacket, but I live! I live in Alexandria, Mn. In the summer and Miami Beach in the cold months. I love your home area posts.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 31, 2019 at 10:48 am

      I’m thrilled you’re here too, Gayle! We certainly practice a lot of “workarounds” to deal with the body stuff, don’t we? I love hearing about the Minnesota connection. Thanks for your comment and letting me know you’re here and from MN!

  • Reply
    Susan
    October 30, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Thank you for your moving, elegant post. I know my husband and I live from follow-up to follow-up, riding high after a good report and getting anxious the month before the next. We try very hard to live in the present, practice gratitude and enjoy all the positives in our lives. It appears you do the same!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 31, 2019 at 10:46 am

      The blueprint you’ve described is what I go through too. Before this last scan, I practiced something new. You know how anxiety-producing it is, right? This time I’d catch my thought and ask myself: Is this thought helping or hurting? If it was hurting, I did what it could to change my thought. Even Russ noticed that this time I was calmer before the scan. But gosh, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Glad things are good right now and we’ll continue being present to our lives. Thanks so much.

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    October 30, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Oh Brenda, this resonated so strongly with me! I knew that you’d had cancer, but had no idea that you were still undergoing treatment. Though our cancers are not the same, our stories are more alike than I realized. I have neuroendocrine cancer which is not nearly as well known as breast cancer. Perhaps that’s why you have a whole month and we have only one day, November 10, but it’s each and every day and how we live it that matters. Like you, my disease isn’t going anywhere. I don’t take months, years, or even days for granted, but I too am thankful that I’m feeling well and able to live a quality life and I’m determined to make the most of every day! Like you, I’m also extremely grateful that I’ve been blessed with a caring and supportive husband.

    As we watch the California fires on the news, I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be living so close. Praying that you and your home remain safe!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 31, 2019 at 10:43 am

      Elaine, indeed we have a lot of shared experiences. Thank you so much for sharing yours. Really, I had no idea. We count our blessings. Love to you, my friend.

  • Reply
    LA CONTESSA
    October 30, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    MARINA BAY YACHT HARBOR!
    AND OUR CONDO IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU IN THE PHOTO!!!!
    SMALL WORLD!
    A BEAUTIFUL TRIBUTE To BREAST CANCER and YOUR FIRE ADVENTURES!
    HOW DO I GET THROUGH IT………..WITH A LOT OF STRESS!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      October 31, 2019 at 10:41 am

      Well, there is always the stress. Inevitable. Small world indeed!

  • Reply
    Katherine Cramer
    October 31, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Dear One Brenda, thank you for sharing your courage, humor and wise insights. Your life stories help us all. I had no doubt that your loving circles of support are very much part of your absolute glow that warms and attracts. You are a loving and creative soul that knows the dark parts making you a fierce, authentic spokesperson and chronicler of positive possibilities. Hugs for you and all your loved ones including Lady Vivian and all your Readers. Times are tough at the moment. Perhaps sharing shadow stories is exactly what bring the light. I hope our mothers are enjoying some form of Universal, nurturing soup at starry fashion shows. I can imagine. Fabulous!

  • Reply
    Laura Gannon
    October 31, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Brenda, I wanted to reach out to let you know I loved your what a beautifully written post. It’s obvious, from all your readers comments, that you really struck a chord of truth with your creative, passionate, fun, and truthful message. Thank you for sharing, you are an inspiration!!

  • Reply
    Violet
    November 1, 2019 at 7:58 am

    This is one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read. And it made me cry. New to your blog and Instagram, I had no idea… You exemplify grace and fortitude. The photo speaks volumes of the love between you and your husband and that was the only thing that leapt out at me when I first saw it on IG. I wish you both many more years of health and happiness together.

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    Sandra Sallin - Apart From my Art
    November 2, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Oh Brenda, you always touch my heart. You know I don’t know how I go through my health issues. It’s just tough but I do it. i think I just hide from it all. I take care but bury it deep inside. Try to live the best life I can and grab all the joy that is around me. But I know there will come a day. I do so love your writing and the way you live your life. Plus your red lipstick.

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