Erica’s Cancer Journey: Nothing But Net(i Pot)


Cough. Blow nose. Cancel plans. Rinse and repeat.

With so many chemicals coursing through me, I thought I was bulletproof during cold season, but right now, la grippe, as the French call it, sure has a grip on me. My eyes prefer to remain closed, even daytime. Turns out I can sleep all day, who knew?! I go through tissues like Joey Chestnut goes through Nathan’s hot dogs.

My oncologist asked how I am doing, and I tell her my mucus is golden in color. Then I unexpectedly expectorate: “You doctors love gross things. Wanna see what I just spit up?” “Sure!…Oh, yeah, that’s not golden. Here’s a prescription for some antibiotics.” “BUT IT’S GOLDEN,” I protest. Doctor looks at Mike, who affirms with a nod: I’m with you, doc, that’s not golden.

More pills. More Neti pot. More liquids. More rest. Sigh. Thank goodness for all things peppermint mocha that help me get through the holidays.


Have you used a Neti pot before? Shaped like a small pitcher with a disproportionately long genie lamp-style  spout, this porcelain vessel gets filled with a bit of sea salt and warm water, the nozzle gets positioned into one nostril, poured into the sinus cavity, and comes out in a small stream down the other nostril, into the sink, carrying with it mucal remnants that clear out stuffiness and clogs, then on to the other side. Like a gentle sinus Roto-Rooter. I have found doing this treatment very helpful to do every morning and evening that I come down with something, because the process is so short, simple, and easy.

While I recover from this crud, I’m also reeling from the steroid withdrawal, hair-trigger raging at my family and telemarketers, crying at Pentaholic Choir’s On My Way Home, or melting at videos of puppies who struggle with stairs.

So many opportunities for rest and healing. My body reminds me in no uncertain terms to lie. down. Thank goodness for friends who have responded with well-wishes, hot and sour soup, and a Dwayne the Rock Johnson tree ornament (whaaaat?!). I treated myself to my favorite, redunculously delish, Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie for my birthday, which helped a little. Stepping aside and letting my family, and the rest of the world keep spinning while I’m on the sidelines is my biggest challenge. Are you feeling frozen in motion this season, either emotionally or physically? Stay in touch at I love your letters.

“If you desire healing,
let yourself fall ill
let yourself fall ill.”
Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi

Head On and Heart Strong!

Love, Erica

Kids’ Almanac columnist Erica Chase-Salerno was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the Summer of 2015. To read more about her experience, visit