Erica’s Cancer Journey: “What’s so hard about “new”?”

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

“Just when I discovered the meaning of life, they changed it.” – George Carlin

“Hold onto your potatoes!” – Temple of Doom

Sometimes I feel like Indiana Jones in Temple of Doom’s Battle on the Bridge scene, where he’s holding onto the rope bridge with one hand, trying to survive the forces intent on killing him.

“Reality continues to ruin my life.” – Bill Watterson

My recent scan results show stability in some areas, liver progression, slight increase in brain swelling and a heart refilling with fluid. In cancer calculus, that adds up to receiving new meds. There’s thebig picture: I’m alive.


And then there’s the rest, which is where my attention goes right now. My energies are already spent plodding through appointments, scans, blood draws, meds and even meds for my meds.

In this new chapter of my cancer chronicles: Will I have pain? Baldness again? Will this chemo help? Does it extend my life? No way to tell yet.

“You know the trouble with real life? There’s no danger music.” – Jim Carrey

When is boring preferable to interesting? Cancer appointments. No one wants to be the “interesting” patient. I dream of uneventful, dull, routine test results. I measure time in seasons, and I am grateful to be here in the middle of autumn. As the weeks flow by, I’m getting a glimmer of the possibility of winter.

“Why don’t they give us things we can actually use? I don’t need a thinner phone.
You know what I need? I need a tortilla chip that can support
the weight of guacamole.” – Ellen DeGeneres

My entire life right now is predicated on change, from shifting soccer practices to unanticipated black-bean grocery runs to trying a clay class to celebrating new marriages to grieving loved ones. Honoring what is. More than ever before, I find I need quiet. Reflection. Rest. Rides. Retreats. Rationing my energies. Reclaiming peace from the busyness of daily life. Perpetual rounds of online Boggle. Sometimes it’s hard for me to take space, because I don’t want to waste any moments. Is that too much pressure on myself? Probably.

“As the wise man once said, ‘So?’” – Will Ferrell

So I plod on, infused with love and laughter – not just a new chemo, not just a rope bridge. Not just potatoes. Life.

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