Erica’s Cancer Journey: “I had BRAINNN surgery this week”

Heart drains, brain tumors, mets, oh my!

November 13

Q: “How many cancer treatments does the patient need?” 

A: “Tumor!” 

I’m downsizing!

-— cleared out some the old lung fluid

— got rid of a brain tumor

— still have plenty of cancer throughout this vessel, inquire within

I had BRAINNNNNNNNNNNNN surgery this week. My awesome doctors got me in and out so fast. I am now recovering, being read the Riot Act about taking it easy for quite a while. All kinds of fun happening like steroids, my own addled-ness, with things like “How do I dial this number correctly, unlike the first seven times?” and resorting to asking the phone “When are you opening, Crazy Bowlz?”

I was holding off on getting the surgery, but when the tumor pressure suddenly expanded one day, the entire game changed. At the end of my metastatic breast cancer retreat, I was very tired. I woke up unable to express words clearly, like having a stroke. No stroke, but the swelling grew to such an extent that I couldn’t really process ideas or express myself.


Prep included draining the left heart area, then removing the tumor, then sitting around making soup. I also made sriracha cauliflower, which was epic (bake, stir, add Frank’s hot sauce, welcome to Heaven) and became obsessed with yeast-free loaves from the Kingston Bread Lab (

The biggest tumor is now out – it was on the left like Left Shark, around 2 cm – I have a hell of a battle wound and I’m so grateful. I’d be gone right about now without this lifesaving surgery. As I wean off of the steroids over the next week, I will apparently be very tired, so I’m trying to do short tasks here and there – in between eating jags, of course. The healing is crazy rapid so far – yay, body!

The kids are doing awesome. I keep crying with happiness to get this additional time with them.

Thank you, Drs. Bowers and Watts, for giving me a shot. And thank you everyone who continues to help keep our family moving and grooving, because I can do even less than before this latest adventure. We really need, need, need you, and even more, love, love, love you.

Head On and Heart Strong!

The Cuticle Chronicles

November 16


Yesterday I felt great

Today I’m sluggish

I’m making short sentences, about half correct words and half gobbledygook

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain (no reason, just thought of it)

I miss being able to express myself

A lot

Mike is pretty amazing

Today’s playlist included Beach Boys and that era

I hope I can score some of this epic bread tomorrow a.m. I just don’t get how it works yet.

I am spending a fair amount of time tending to my cuticles, something that Amazon and I worked on together, and I am really into it. It’s one stick, two different surfaces, and I had no idea I could constructively “pick.” Everything is different now. There’s always more cuticle opening to be had.

I’m on steroids = hungry whether I’m actually hungry or not

I like the sparkle and beautify of this afternoon

I’m actually getting some sentences, wow

I transplanted my first plant today, hope it lives

Quinn’s getting a crested gecko, and I’m smitten and now I can’t stop obsessing over it. I’m going to be a crested-gecko’s grandmother!

Sudden cravings include Frosted Mini-Wheats and I guess a second bowl of Mini-Wheats. I thought more was going to happen on that, but now that I want more Mini-Wheats I’m going to take care of this situation.

I think this is all my brain will tolerate; I am super wiped-out now. 

Feel free to bring food our way – any food. We eat all the things, esp. vegetarian.

Head On and Heart Strong!

and love and Lady of Perpetually Hungerly yours,

Staples: That Was Easy!

November 20

Live is so good! 

My 40 staples are out of my head! Sweet scalp freedom! My staples were smaller than I thought: around a half-inch, shaped like a swirly uppercase M (or a sideways E, or a curly W) on my keyboard. I rewarded myself after the plucking via small Starbucks decaf mocha with one pump, a jelly donut, a Boston creme donut and a toasted poppy bagel with veggie cream cheese because I happened to be near it. I didn’t think I like poppy because of seeds getting stuck in my teeth (it’s basically all they had), but it was delish. Do I want pizza or not? Have it tomorrow?

I finally took the plunge: I have curtailed cuticle care for the moment and administered nail polish. Done. For now. My cuticles are (were) like grizzled vines, skinny rails of dry flesh. Now I could be a hand model.

I am eating all of the things. Why are carbs so good?!

Listened to Yaz tonight. So random… “Move out” …Don’t judge. I’m on steroids. One time is all it took. I’m good for another 25 years. Back to new Rhett Miller, Suicide Squad soundtrack and Dog on Fleas. Or literally anything else.

Overdoing it is so easy for me. I don’t realize it until I’m mental jello. 

Tonight is leftovers. Maybe I’ll order a pizza, too. Hungry/not-hungry. But I’m trying to clean out our pantry, so I’m making great desserts and dinners. I made lasagna for the first time last night. And when I say “I made,” I mean I conked out and the kids finished the job, thankfully! I love this age: They can do anything, and I love them so much. This weird zone of consciousness is still unpredictable to me.

Thanksgiving will be pretty mellow. Mike and family will enjoy a traditional dinner, and I’ll eat later on my own because I get wiped out just thinking about the outside world.

Our dog, Casey, is a noisy barker, but she’s my soul, and I love her. She’s such a good companion, especially when no one else is home.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Head On (and I do go on. and on.) and Heart Strong! 

It’s a hard pain gonna call

November 27

Brain surgery recovery is so far, so good – like, really good, in terms of healing up without infection or curveball issues. That said, after my first steroid reduction, I had a Dark Night of the Soul.

I bed down for the night.

Awaken in Hell.

Rich, full-dimensional pain paralyzes and torments in a suffering that not only refuses relief; it ignores the existence of it.

Jackhammer without throbbing. Blasting minus bombs.

Crushing. Hardening. Existing.

Atonement? Crucifixion? A f*cking spiritual cleanse? 

What is happening? 

Day and I break. 

Steroid withdrawal. 

Results may vary. 

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