Monday, December 15, 2014

My Beautiful Life

Beautiful Life

words & music by Roni Teson

It's so simple
Just care for yourself
Be no burden
Offer your help

I've seen the worst and the best
I'm lived through the ultimate test
What I share is commonly known
What's preventing you from having your own...

Beautiful life
Beautiful life
Beautiful life

Thoughts are real
People can be mean
A downward spiral
Most of us have seen

How you take things 
 is how they will go
But how it ends
...nobody really knows

I've seen the worst come out best
Prayed to God, Laid my bets
Took a while to finally believe

My beautiful life
Beautiful life right here in front of me

Beautiful life
Beautiful life right here in front of me


Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I never knew what to say or how to treat others who were diagnosed with a serious illness. I tried to think about how I’d want to be treated, but nothing prepared me for when my turn came—breast cancer, diagnosed at stage IV.

Blew my mind about who came around, who said what ‘odd’ things to me, and who disappeared from my life.

The vanishing act began with my employer. Yikes! The career I spent so many years building pushed out on disability. Able to work part-time and keep clients happy, but no. “. . . Stay away and get well,” the CEO said.

Probably my fault anyway, when they told me to commit to the number of hours each week, I couldn’t. “. . . I’m working from home. Can I log hours on the phone and computer—send them afterwards? Make sure the clients are happy.”

“No, Roni, we want you to get well.” Code for: We aren’t going to pay you for part-time work over that disability insurance check that you get each week.  Didn’t have to read between the lines on that comment, learned off the record the real deal.

Better to disappear than say something stupid? For me, the answer is No.

My sister called me once during the first twelve months after my first round of chemo. “I’ve had suspicious lumps removed. You’ll be fine.”

“Tests show stage IV cancer. The doctor doesn’t know if I’ll be fine.”

“You’ll be fine.”

Really? I agreed with her.

Didn’t hear from her again for well over a year.

I got home from round two of chemo and a dozen flowers were on my porch. A client sent them. Made me happy.

After the next round of chemo, another client sent a box of hats. Surprises were nice.

On one of my worst days ever, the women’s networking group sent me a quilt they’d made. Gave me tears of joy.

Cards came from people I didn’t know real well, arrived sporadically—I enjoyed each one. Any small token helped me on that unwanted journey.

I tried to work out, stay healthy. I got a text message from a close friend, something about chemo being no excuse to miss Boot Camp workouts. Humor is always welcome in my life—this silly little text made me smile.

I understand each statement, no fault to the messenger (I’d rather hear from you than not at all)—here are the lollapaloozas:

“Of all the people that should have cancer, you’re on the bottom of my list.”

“If you’re going to get cancer, breast cancer is the best one to have.”

“What is stage V?”

“My mom died from breast cancer.”

“Are you going to cut them off?”


“We can’t leave you alone. You left the burner on.” Oops, that I did.

My mother sat through every round of chemo during the first six sessions. Knitting, talking, sleeping, chatting with others, always lifted my spirits. My stepdad went grocery shopping for me, insisted I give him a list—loved this.

My stepmother brought vitamins, showed up and took over my kitchen—more than once. Pushy! Cooked greens, healthy things. She didn’t know what else to do, so she raised money and did all the walks (still does, makes me join her now). Dad brought me books about nutrition—keeping the cancer away. My brother, the artist, finally gave up one of his paintings.

To be fair, I refused most help. I wanted to be alone. The achy crappy way that chemo made me feel, like the worst flu you can ever imagine—made me want to sleep. Solitude. But when people insisted, I let them.

My love of almost nine years couldn’t handle the pressure. I drove myself to the follow-up across town the day after the surgery. Didn’t want to ask anyone to drive me. That could have been a disaster from all the pain meds! What the hell, I tell myself now.

Daily radiation—34 days—intense, forty-five minutes on the table every day. My skin on my neck cracked. Then my world cracked. The relationship fell apart. Gone. Shocked me. I still wouldn’t let anybody help me. With some people, you must insist.

Looking at this now, I appreciated the thoughtful gestures. When I went into hiding, people found a way. For that, I’m grateful. I read my journal and applaud the brave souls in my life who dared to reach out. Good, bad, or indifferent—I enjoyed any form of communication.

About the lollapaloozas: I know that I’m on the bottom of that person’s list because she thinks highly of me, my life style, my health. Also, if you’re going to get cancer, breast cancer is where the research money goes. Herceptin put me in remission. Stage V? Well let’s say that puts the urgency in life—I made the decision to get the most out of my time left—over that comment (thank you).  And the list goes on. . .

When your intentions are good, I believe you can say anything you want—even good-bye.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Greatest Inspiration

I believe that writing is like life and finding inspiration in life can be as easy as opening your eyes. I'm sitting at the window looking at the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Orange, yellow, and peach—all colors that are dancing in the reflection on top of the sea and blowing up my window in the best possible way. People spread out across the sand every night at the same time. They seem to come from everywhere and pay homage to the sunset. Even when it’s not so beautiful, I always see folks up and down the coast looking out at the sunset, being inspired. Life is great.

Right now, the first thing that pops into my head about inspiration are the moments that I used to miss when everything else got in the way—before I battled stage IV cancer.

Today, I'm inspired by the flower that bloomed outside my door and shines so bright, the man that helped his son on the sidewalk until the kid is riding upright on his bicycle for the first time, my neighbor that saved the dog with three legs, my dad who had brain surgery and walked away a day later, my niece who managed to get her masters degree while raising two young kids, the stranger that helped the elderly woman stand up when she fell down, the every day heroics that take place right in front of me.

Who is my greatest inspiration? The best part of humanity that still exists and can be seen when we open our eyes and really look at what's going on around us. You are my greatest inspiration.

Tomorrow my greatest inspiration might be someone or something else, but I promise you I'll be inspired.

Use this link for morphing video of bald pictures transitioning through recovery:

Roni Teson is the author of Twist and Heaven or Hell. She is also a survivor.

Friday, May 2, 2014

How I Beat Stage IV Cancer

My best advice to anyone dealing with cancer: Get to know your doctors. I threatened mine. He warned me about my vocal cords. Said he has to cut into them sometimes when he removes the thyroid. “Your voice could sound like this… “ He made a raspy sound.
“No,” I said.
“I’ve removed vocal cords to save people’s lives.”
“No. I’m not living without a voice. Ever.”
“If the cancer spread—“
“Sew me back up. I’ll find an alternative treatment. Do not go near my voice box.”
“I’m not f--king kidding. I don’t care how bad it looks, sew me back up.”
A week later, on the morning after the surgery, my eyes popped open at 5:30 a.m. The doctor stood near the door, staring at me, waiting. He grinned. “I didn’t go near your vocal cords.”
Papillary carcinoma—gone. Found by mistake, during my second Pet/CT scan to monitor the effect of chemotherapy on the breast cancer. The creepy crud had moved from my breast outward, to my sternum and my lymph nodes, but the cancer in my breast had nothing to do with the thyroid cancer that showed up a year later.
I told the thyroid doctor, “I’d be healthy if it weren’t for all of this cancer.”
He laughed. “Did you hear yourself? Ha, ha . . . ”
My breast surgeon started me on the path to make sure your doctor cares even if he thinks you’re crazy. She and I got along really well. I told her about my vision, all my parts intact. I knew my breast would remain on my body—first a dream, then a real strong intuition when I showered that morning.
Later, after the surgery, she said, “I got in there and . . . oh my. That was the largest tumor I ever removed.” Her eyes got real big. “I would have taken the whole breast, but I said, Roni wants to keep it. I have to try.”
I wanted all the doctors to cut as little as possible, don’t stir things up—allow my body time to heal. Don’t entice those ugly cancer cells to run amuck. But never did I go against my medical team. I made informed decisions and pushed back when the doctors wanted to go too far.
We knew the cancer went into my lymph nodes because they did a biopsy, a deep, painful one. We knew my sternum lit up like a Christmas tree on the PET/CT scan, but the first doctor wanted to do another biopsy, this one on my bone.
“Why? Is the treatment the same?” I said.
“Yes, but we want to make sure.”
“Sure of what? Will the treatment be any different?”
“No, chemotherapy.”
I refused to let them cut into my bone to find out what they already knew and what took them three weeks to discover—the cancer had spread. Most people catch breast cancer long before it progresses. Not me. Stage IV is the place I began my battle.
A cancer diagnosis of any kind is difficult. I’ve lost friends and family to the disease. I’ve seen patients not ask questions, blindly follow doctors’ orders, and not share everything with their medical team. Some of them are gone now.
How did I get to be the chosen one? In remission from stage IV cancer, feeling better than ever.
I resisted the temptation to look away and let the doctors do what they wanted—difficult because it felt like confronting death. I questioned and re-questioned. I understood what I needed and pushed back at times—active every step of the way, either through my family or on my own.
Six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, surgery, two years of Herceptin infusions, a month of daily radiation, active involvement in my treatment . . . and my entire life rebuilt because it went to crap during my victory. That’s how I beat stage IV cancer. Not easy, but darn, I think I’m pretty lucky. Now I’m working on turning my journal into a book, RUN—expected release date, early 2015.

Roni Teson is the author of Twist, March 2014, and Heaven or Hell, August 2012. RUN, her book about the cancer battle will be released in 2015.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Passion Cards are magical. Each one has  meaningful symbols intertwined in the design specific to the category: Love, Career & Wealth, Spiritual, Gratitude, Passion, Protection, or Health & Wellness.

Write on the back of each card whatever you wish to manifest in that aspect of your life, or be grateful in that topic. Keep your passion cards near you when you sleep at night. Pull a card each morning and that will be your focus for the day. When you use these cards, your life will be forever changed.

The first set of passion cards are part of a limited edition collector's series from the artistry of C. Lavarini. New artwork will be added often. Check the website for updates.