Well I am now awake and ready to eat again!  These are good signs.(LOL)  There is some discomfort from the biopsies but overall it feels good to have Step #1 behind me.  Now we wait for results of what is really going on in there and the plan for the immediate future.  One step at a time…..that’s my mantra while I wait.

Thanks to all for the phone calls, prayers, and positive energy.  I think, of all of you as I wait in the waiting rooms, doctor’s offices and on tables before the anesthesia takes effect.  I am so blessed to have so many people I love and respect offering their strength and well wishes.  This gives me tremendous motivation to fight and I AM A FIGHTER.

The Biopsy

I reported to Sloan at 11:15 but the biopsy did not even begin until 2:30.  What a busy place.  It is almost more frightening seeing the numbers and ages of people with cancer than dealing with your own illness.  And the attitudes of the people were amazing.  The staff is very upbeat, gentle, and caring.  Many patients are cooperative and as with me, hoping for the best.  And then you have those who complained the entire time about the wait or wanted to share the gory details of their story.  My Secret: I took my knitting with me and most people either commented on its beauty or just left me alone.  I liked the solitude of knitting and listening.

The biopsy itself was very uncomfortable since the radiologist informed me that the second MRI was inconclusive on the scapula so they are going in.  This saddened me because they have not ruled out the possibility or the spreading but he said the spread is so small that it would even be difficult for him to achieve.


I was fortunate enough to be highly sedated and although I sometimes felt the pain  and could hear what they were doing, overall I was very out of it.  The payback was that at 8:00PM I was still heavily sedated and very nauseated.  Finally we arrived home and once I hit my own bed, I was gone for about 4 hours. A little more pain meds and I slept the rest of the night like a baby.  

It is 6:30 am and I am uncomfortable but glad the first step has been taken.  Jan and I had the grandiose idea that I could make it to the Cape for the weekend but the reality is…..More meds and back to bed for awhile.  I would so love to see the beach but even I, who would try anything to get there, know that is not the smartest thing to do.  So I will close my eyes and imagine.


Thank you for all of your prayers and strength.  The blog comments are not working properly at this point so if you would like to contact me: or at home.



What a crazy day.  I decided to go to work to make sure I was distracted all day.  Jan called at 8:00am asking for my PET scan discs that he needed to drop off at the doctor’s office across town by 9:00.  That wonderful man took his motorcycle and raced the results across town.  The doctor’s were meeting about the plan for tomorrow’s biopsy.  At 10:00, my cell phone rings again and the hospital wants me to report in at 1:00 for another MRI!.  I arrange to leave work, get to the hospital and have the MRI.  I then ask why? I just did this scan last week.  The doctor tells us that the last tests are inconclusive that the cancer really spread to the shoulder and they just want to make sure before they biopsy the area.  This gave us a little hope since the scapula is the only place it seems the cancer has spread from the kidney and would make things less complicated if it were true.


And so tomorrow morning, I will spend the day again at Sloan for the biopsy and pray for the best.  Results will probably be a week later.  So many people around the world are pulling and praying for us and I truly believe that that is what will help me get well and the doctors will assist!!!  Who would have thought from a person who hardly believed there was such a thing as a God 7 years ago!

A New Week, A New Stage

After all the tears and fears, I am now less emotional and very very angry about this whole nightmare.  I keep wondering how this happened when I have never smoked, drank, watched my diet, exercised, lived a simple life and did what my doctors have told me.  Granted I have lived 54 years in excellent health with no surgery or hospital stays.  But the question Why is still ruminating in my brain.  I am trying my best to accept that this is the way it is supposed to be at this time but I am still angry.  Hopefully I can channel this anger into energy for the big battles.


The good news is that we think the biopsies and port placement may be this Friday, March 28th.  Step one is just a few days away!

Thank you for all the phone calls, cards, emails, and prayers.  You are all in my thoughts and I realize how fortunate Jan and I are to have such a tremendous support system.  We both love you.


Today is the holiday of Purim, one of my favorites.  Tonight, Jan and I went to hear the megillah reading at Hineni.  Rebbitzin Jungreis gave me a blessing for good health and also suggested I read Psalm 20 seven times a day.  The megillah reader was Dr. Michael Zelefsky who is the “engineer” setting up my treatment team at Sloan-Kettering,  He is such a charming gentle and competent man and has assured me that I am and will continue to be with the best team to make me well.  


While waiting for the biopsy appointment to be scheduled, I am enjoying this lull before the storm; going to school, spending time with my precious husband and children, and just taking life a moment at a time.  I am so grateful not to have to deal with the cancer for right now.


Thank you to all who have called and written notes.  I am truly a very blessed person having so many people in my corner.

My First Visit to Memorial Sloan Kettering

Good evening everyone!  It’s been a very long day at Sloan Kettering but I am now in the system, have met my surgeon and oncologist and know that I am in the best of hands.  I was surely hoping that I was going to the hospital today, surgery would be next week, and the doctors would then say have a fun life. 

Unfortunately reality hit the fan and I was very dissapointed initially.  Dr Paul Russo is a darling man with phenomonal bedside manner.   His plan is as follows: 1) It will take ten days to schedule, but a biopsy is essential to determine what kind of cancer cells are present in order to use the correct treatment. 2) Ten days after the biopsy, we should have some idea what kind of cancer I really have. 3) A port will be placed in my chest for chemo since my veins are really tired from all the testing. 4) Even though there is a tumor in my kidney, the kidney is functioning and the lower part is healthy.  Dr. Russo would like to use the kidney to help circulate the chemo, possibly shrink the tumor, and put less stress on the healthy kidney.  5) Hopefully my body will respond to the chemo and I may only lose 1/2 a kidney.  Even though we have 2 kidneys, 1 1/2 is better than just one. 

I am so fortunate that all other organs are working well and unaffected.  We pray that I respond to whatever chemo is necessary and that we have a plan that is working for my specific disease. Needless to say, I need to go to sleep so I can go to work and enjoy my babies tomorrow at school.  Thanks and love to all of you who are caring, praying, and giving me the emotion support to get through each hour.  

The diagnosis

After a week of discomfort in the area of the gallbladder, Debbi underwent a series of scans that ultimately found cancer in her right kidney. The cancer was confirmed by a PET scan performed at Park Avenue Radiologists in Manhattan on 3/12. A summary of their findings:

  • A hypermetabolic right upper pole renal mass (SUV 6.5 peripherally, 4.3 x 5.8 x 5.2 cm in AP transverse and CC dimensions). No similar hypermetabolism in the right renal vein or IVC.
  • A hypermetabolic solitary aortocaval lymph node (SUV average 4.2, 1.4 x 1.0 x 1.1 cm in AP and transverse dimensions). No hypermetabolic perirenal lymph nodes noted.
  • A solitary hypermetabolic lytic lesion in the left scapula at the junction of the coracoid base and the glenoid (SUV average 4.0, 1.2 x 1.1 x 1.2 cm in AP, transverse and CC dimensions).

Thankfully, the left kidney, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, and adrenal glands are all normal.Today, Monday 3/17, at 4:30pm , Debbi is having an MRI on her left scapula to investigate the lesion there. In the meantime, an appointment with Dr. Paul Russo, FACS, a specialist in kidney tumor surgery has been scheduled for Tuesday 3/18 at 1:00pm at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. We are hoping that in short order, the right kidney and the involved lymph node will be removed and then we will focus on the left scapula and on the healing process.