Thursday, December 27, 2007

Memorial/Celebration of Life - May 17, 2008

Hi all, Caroline's memorial has been set for Saturday evening, May 17, 2008, 6:00 pm, at the Ouray Community Center.

If you're able, we would love for you to come cry, laugh, tell Caroline stories, and celebrate Caroline's life with us. While I'm sure there will be some tears, Caroline fully intended that we gather to celebrate her time with us and have a good time while doing so.

Following is the website for the Ouray Chamber of Commerce. It will provide you with some information about Ouray and there's a link at the top titled "Lodging". The motels I'm familiar with and can recommend are:

Box Canyon Lodge
The Best Western
The Comfort Inn (which accepts pets)
The River's Edge
The Victorian Inn

There are also several Bed & Breakfast facilities but I haven't stayed at any of those.

I spoke with Robert about driving from the Dallas area. He said it would probably be best to drive:

Dallas to Albuquerque
Albuquerque to Pueblo, Colorado (Interstate 25)
Pueblo through Gunnison to Montrose, Colorado
Montrose south to Ouray

Let me know if you need specifics.

You could drive from Albuquerque to Durango, Colorado, but you'd have to go over Red Mountain pass --- it's definitely NOT for the weak of heart. You could go to Cortez and come over via Telluride. (The same for the New Mexico folks as well if the roads north of Durango are bad.) If you would like to come and would like to car pool, let me know and I'll try to connect people.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can get any information for you.

We're all doing well. Ian has been in Ouray with Robert since Sunday which has been great for both of them. As always, they opened the Buckskin for several hours Christmas day. Ian's due to depart tomorrow but I heard on the news this evening that the Denver airport has cancelled a ton of flights due to weather. Here in Prescott it's just cold (well, cold for us desert rats).

We miss Caroline terribly - I think of calling her all the time. I'm old enough to know it takes time - it just doesn't make my heart hurt any less. Thank you for the cards, emails, phone calls, love, and sympathy. I just love hearing from Caroline's friends. We hope to see you in May - if you can make it there safely.

Love to all,

Caroline's Family - Robert, Ian, Diane, Al and Suzie

Suzie West
Home: 928.776.0202

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Correction to site for Caroline's video

Sorry, folks! The correct link is:

Who knows what you got at the other link?!?!?!


Caroline's Video: In Case I Die

Rick has posted Caroline's video to:

Thank you, Rick!

This video was made by the Ouray High School Film Class - specifically Kelsey Winfrey and Zach Ficco, as well as their teacher, Nancy Nixon.

Zach and Kelsey apparently shot about 5 hours of film. The video, In Case I Die, has been edited to 17 minutes.

Those of you who come to this CC site are dealing with a very important fact of life: facing your own death or that of someone you love. I think those of you who visit this site and are familiar with Caroline's blogs will appreciate this film - its humor and honesty.

I've decided God needed someone who thinks outside-the-box. I'm sure Caroline is shaking things up a bit in Heaven.

Love to you all,

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Sister - Sweet Caroline

Caroline loved the whole CC Family and your support meant the world to her. Following is a copy of an email I sent today that I thought I would share with you. I want you to know how much your blogs and posts also meant to me, Caroline's sister. You provided information, hope, comfort, and support. I also shared the heartbreak of families and friends who lost loved ones. We thank you from our hearts for all you gave to, and shared with, Caroline.

My dear family and friends,

Caroline lost her incredible battle with cholangiocarcinoma at 9:09 am, Friday, December 7, 2007, in Montrose Memorial Hospital. Diane and I, as well as her husband, Robert, and her dear friend and health-care nurse, Colleen Hollenbeck of Ouray, were all with her when she slipped away.

Robert, Diane and I truly believe that if Caroline had to die now, she departed in just about the best way possible: Wednesday she ate crab, lobster and shrimp; she bowled with her beloved bowling team Wednesday night (and even increased their score!); Thursday morning she could not be wakened; Friday morning she died. We are incredibly thankful Caroline did not linger for days/weeks/months - Caroline would have hated that.

WARNING: This is going to be one of my long emails which will be cathartic for me and will share information some of you will want - others will not, and I understand. If you want, just skip to the part below the asterisks (*******) near the end of this email.

Robert called me Thursday, December 6, and told me he was following an ambulance to the Montrose Memorial Hospital. After not being able to wake Caroline Thursday morning, he called Colleen. Colleen took Caroline's blood pressure, which was extremely low, and after checking with St. Mary's Oncology Center in Grand Junction (where Caroline was being treated by Dr. Bergen) they called the EMTs in Ouray. They stopped the ambulance three times on the way to Montrose trying to get a line in Caroline but her blood pressure was so low they were unable to insert a needle in a vein. Tests at Montrose Memorial revealed that Caroline was suffering from various infections in her bladder and bile duct, her kidneys were failing, her liver was gone, and her blood pressure was close to nonexistent. The damage to her body was irreversible. If they had been able to stabilize her, they would have flown her to Denver to have the stint that was placed in her bile duct early November cleaned out. Blood tests taken earlier that week revealed that the stint was blocked and Robert had scheduled an appointment to take Caroline to Denver on December 19 to have the stint cleaned or replaced. Robert called me several times with updates and Diane and I decided to head to Ouray.

Oh emergencies! The oil in my 4-Runner had to be changed (as storms were entering Colorado, we needed to take a 4-wheel drive) so Al took the car to have the oil changed, Diane had been in the process of passing a kidney stone and had decided not to go until she passed the stone. Robert called again saying the doctor wasn't sure Caroline would make it through the night. Diane repacked her things, Al returned with the car, and Diane and I departed Prescott about 8:40 pm Thursday night. I hit a deer just north of Flagstaff. I found it beside the road and when I approached it with a flashlight it stood and ran off using all four legs. I remember being panic stricken as it ran off that it would be using only three legs - I was so thankful it was running away with all 4 legs down. I mention this as many of you know I am so acutely aware of deer and elk beside the road at night and try to be so very careful. The car was ok (until we turned left into a gas station in Kayenta when I realized the bumper was bent in towards the wheel) but I was near hysteria --- it just felt like a really bad omen. The wind was tremendous in Arizona and after entering Colorado we decided to take the long route through Dove Creek and Naturita to avoid steep mountain passes as the rain and snow were blowing vertically either from the left, right, or head-on depending on our direction and it was really dark. Unfortunately it took us 11+ hours to arrive at the hospital. The turnoff from Highway 62 to Highway 550 to Montrose was the longest 26 miles I've ever driven in my life. We arrived after 7:30 am Friday.

When we entered the ICU ward at Montrose Memorial, the nurses told us they had been waiting for us and took us immediately to Caroline with Robert and Colleen by her side. The attending doctor, Dr. Felberg, told us they had been giving Caroline the strongest possible heart medicine to keep her blood pressure up, and her alive, until we arrived. Oh my god, had she suffered just so we could say good-bye? Colleen and Dr. Felberg explained to me that actually the septic type gases or substances, like ammonia, produced by the infections are a blessing as they go to a person's brain and just make them go to sleep --- it's like a sleep-inducing drug that eliminates pain. It's the reason Robert couldn't wake her. How in the world was she able to bowl Wednesday night???? To ensure Caroline wasn't in pain, they gave her morphine. Dr. Felberg swore to me she wasn't in pain. When I went to Caroline and held her and told her I was there, she opened her eyes very wide. She did the same when Diane and Robert spoke to her. I honestly believe she knew we were all there with her. They gave Diane and me time with Caroline and then began pulling all the tubes out of her body. That incredible body - that body that had been poked, tested, filmed, filled with too many drugs to count, bruised, and swollen yet still responding to her absolute will to live. What an amazing body. Her hands - which touched, felt, wrote, expressed her essence with and without words. Those hands that shook when I last saw her in Socorro, New Mexico, as she tried to hold or manipulate something. We all touched and held her, talked to her, and then her breathing began decreasing and she very quickly and easily left us. Our beautiful, bigger than life baby sister was gone from this world. Did Caroline fly away on the back of that deer from Flagstaff?

A life fact: Even though you know it's coming and you try to prepare, it still somehow is an absolute shock and your heart breaks just the same. I cannot believe Caroline is gone. I cannot believe I can't pick up the phone and call her or that I'll pick up the phone and hear "Suuuuuzie, this is Caroline." I cannot believe I'll never see those big brown eyes again. I cannot believe she'll never again drive me crazy with her tardiness or undeniable insistence on something. I cannot believe she won't walk into this house again with 15 bags filled with crocheting, knitting, books, and who knows what else. I cannot believe I'll never again laugh at her. I cannot believe I'll never again enjoy her outlandish sense of humor. I cannot believe she'll never again put her arms around me when I'm sad and cry --- like now.

Our sweet baby sister lived big and out-loud. It was with care and interest that Caroline knew the name of almost every one of the 800+/- residents of Ouray, Colorado. That was Caroline. Ouray was not only Caroline's home but the people of Ouray were her family. During her years in Ouray she often worked at 2-3 jobs there at a time from City Treasurer to waitressing. She was involved with numerous organizations, publicly played the flute and recited her own poetry, supported everything and everyone "Ouray", and ultimately co-owned Buckskin Booksellers with Robert. Caroline even had her own radio show on Sundays - Sweet Caroline's Oldies. She loved the Beatles - a year ago we took her to Cirque du Soleil's Beatles' show "Love" at the Mirage in Las Vegas for her birthday. Apparently she told lots of "sisters" stories as she played old songs that reminded her of our youth in Duncanville. Caroline remembered everything! As some of you know, in addition to her blog on the website, Caroline had been producing a film about her life with cancer and her impending death. She enlisted two of the Ouray High School film class students - Kelsey Winfrey and Zach Ficco. In fact, during one of my visits with her in Ouray, I tagged along with the three of them as they filmed a scene. I tell you, Diane and I had no idea what this film of Caroline's would look like.

As Caroline states in her film, her control issues were too great to leave the planning of her memorial service to others. Because of the weather post December 7 affecting Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, and New Mexico, and because the editing of her film, which contains five hours of footage, had not been completed, Robert, Diane and I decided to wait until May to hold her memorial so out of state family and friends might attend. Caroline's good friend and soul sister, Nancy Wolkin of Ouray, had lunch with Robert and me a day after Caroline died and told us the town of Ouray wanted, "needed", to celebrate her life now. Following Nancy's lead, the people of Ouray held a celebration of Caroline's life at the Ouray Community Center on Wednesday evening, December 12. The Community Center was filled with Caroline's Ouray family of friends and food. Diane and I heard great stories and left with a greater sense of the woman Caroline had become and why she so loved these people of Ouray. Something that really pulled my heartstrings was the number of young people who got up and spoke of Caroline and the impact she had on their lives. Nancy Nixon, the teacher of the high school film class, and Zach and Kelsey, worked diligently to edit 17 minutes of the film Honestly, I had such mixed emotions about seeing Caroline on film --- I had no idea whether I could stand it but it was, after all, her wish. I think tears shot straight out of my eyes when she first appeared on screen but the film was both hysterical and poignant ----- soooooooo Caroline. I was so amazed and proud of Caroline, Nancy Nixon, Kelsey and Zach. I swear this should be a short on PBS or HBO --- truly. The film addresses a fact we all live with every day of our lives but seldom speak of: death - our own death. How brave and inspirational that Caroline would so publically address and share this intimate part of her life with anyone willing to watch. I'm in awe of her tenacity and courage.

Diane and I remained in Ouray with Robert until yesterday (Saturday, December 15) until the roads cleared. It was good for Diane and me to be with Robert and I think it was good for Robert, too. We cried and laughed together and shared this time with some of the people of Ouray - including Elwood Gregory, whom Caroline dearly loved. As some of you know, Caroline was on extremely strong steroids which affected her in some interesting ways and provided challenges to those around her. For one thing, the steroids gave her tremendous energy and she often cycled into a very manic state. I remember sitting in Dr. Bergen's office and telling him that if he couldn't reduce the steroids, he needed to prescribe them for her caretakers. In all honesty, there were times we all wanted to throttle her. On the other hand, they seemed to reduce Caroline's inhibition which was revealing and often a lot of fun. And ..... her head became even harder ---- ugh. She also became more compulsive and compulsive about unusual things - like needing to buy "things"; the need to shop, shop, shop (I hate to shop and could easily live the rest of my life without ever walking into a mall again); at night instead of going to bed, holding and fondling objects and refusing to get into bed even though she was falling asleep sitting on the its edge while holding these items; refusing to allow even the smallest scrap of paper in her possession to be thrown away; sometimes talking nonstop; a need to continuously dump everything out of her multitude of purses and bags to "organize" things; the need to cover every surface around her with her things - sometimes falling asleep in a bed covered with her prized trinkets and slips of paper. Obviously there were very real psychological reasons for each of these idiosyncrasies: not wanting to go to sleep for fear of not waking up; not wanting to waste precious time on sleep; the need to control anything she possibly could since she couldn't control the cancer; the need to see and touch everything, big or small, that meant something to her; the need to have as many days on her calendar booked with at least one activity so she knew she had events to look forward to and, God willing, days to be lived. Her mind --- so complex and so active. She became enthralled with a TV program about the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders' tryouts because one of her best friend's daughter was a Kilgore College Rangerette and one of her Rangerette friends had tried out for the Dallas Cowboy squad. Since she became more debilitated and house-bound she loved the TV show "House", "Dancing With the Stars" (heaven knows she probably voted from her home phone as well as each of her and Robert's cell phones), Oprah (previously she never could understand how anyone had time to watch Oprah!) ---- all of this after the year before admonishing Diane and me for watching too much network TV (although she was appreciate that we turned her on to HBO's "Big Love"). Problem: when visiting us in Prescott, AZ, after watching Big Love, she wanted us to take her to one of Warren Jeff's towns, Colorado City, located in northern Arizona. I told her no way (this was during his recent trial) - I had no doubt she'd want to get out of the car and talk to the locals. I'm surprised it didn't occur to her to attempt to haul Zach and Kelsey over there to film an interview.

It was hard being in their house - it was even harder leaving. My car's battery had died the night it reached 10 degrees below 0. Robert and I pushed it while he tried to jump start it; then I pushed it with Robert's vehicle - the battery tried to ignite but just couldn't quite make it. Robert and the 4-Runner wound up near main street. A friend saw Robert, stopped and jumped the car. Do you know you could sit by the road in a big city for a lifetime waiting for someone to stop and offer a hand? The sky yesterday was clear and blue. The roads were amazingly clear affording Diane and me safe passage out of Colorado. The snow capped mountains stood tall and strong acutely reminding me that this life is not of man alone.

The last time I saw Caroline was a few weeks ago in Socorro, New Mexico. She and Robert annually attend a mineral symposium there and I drove over to see her. I took her to the Bosque del Apache Bird Refuge where we saw thousands of assorted geese, ducks, cranes --- and even a coyote. It was the kind of day together that has left me with a special, very visual, memory of a beautiful day with Caroline. Beverly Bowden was going to fly into Phoenix this Thursday and she, Diane, and I were going to drive to Ouray to spend three nights with Caroline prior to Christmas. We were all really excited and I'm so happy Caroline had that time on her calendar to look forward to. Ian was arriving this Thursday to spend Christmas with them. I'm so sad Caroline didn't get to see Ian one more time - she so loved him and got the biggest kick out of him and the events of his life.

From the beginning, Caroline's oncologist, Dr. Bergen of St. Mary's in Grand Junction, wanted to provide her with the best quality of life for as long as possible --- and that's exactly what he did. In fact, Dr. Bergen probably had no idea how well and long a life he would help give Caroline. As those of you who have read her blog know, she packed more into the last two years than many pack into a lifetime. I will be forever grateful to Dr. Bergen and Caroline's other doctors for the incredible care they gave her. She so wanted to live but, as Diane says, if Caroline lived to be 150 she'd still have a zillion things she wanted to do. Well, she got to mark a whole lot of them off her list. Dr. Felberg and the staff at Montrose Memorial could not have been any more compassionate and concerned - I will forever remember their care of Caroline and us.


Caroline's memorial will be held in May and everyone is invited. Be forewarned - it WILL be a celebration and it will be as unique as the woman being celebrated. Caroline had conspired with one of the local entrepreneurs, a man named Jody from New Orleans with an incredible kick-ass accent, to be in charge of a New Orleans jazz style funeral parade. Caroline has requested that part of her ashes be divided into baggies and given to those who promise to take her along with them to one of this world's beautiful spots and sprinkle her there. She would like fireworks - which Robert, who is on the city council, is going to try his best to arrange. Her film will be shown. I have no doubt that warmth and love will be extended to Caroline's family and friends by the people of Ouray. It will truly be a celebration of a very special life in America's little Switzerland - Ouray, Colorado.

Diane and I thank you for your love, support, comfort, and prayers these last 2+ years. It meant the world to Caroline and kept her going. As many of you know, I could not have gotten through this without it. While this is one of the most heartbreaking times of my life, I am forever thankful for my time with Caroline, my family, and my friends.

Love to you all,

P.S. Please let me know if you think you may want to attend her memorial celebration in May and I'll let you know when the exact date is set and keep you posted as plans proceed.

P.S.S. The attached pictures were taken March, 2007, while Caroline and Robert were visiting his family in Mississippi. They include Caroline, Robert, Lois (Robert's mother), and Ian (Robert's son and Caroline's step-son). I just love these pictures. The reason for the "You're Looking at a Legend" shirt is: a friend's daughter who lives in another city in Colorado mentioned that she was going to see Caroline in Ouray to someone. The young man replied he knew Caroline and said "Caroline's a legend." And that she truly is!

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Saddest Blog

Caroline died this morning at 9:09 at Montrose Memorial Hospital. She was taken to the hospital yesterday by ambulance, after her husband Robert and Colleen Hollenbeck, our local home health care nurse, were unable to get her to wake up, and after consultation with the St. Mary's Oncology Center. Her blood pressure was very low, as was her blood sugar level. The emergency room determined that she had massive infection, probably in the liver, as well as bladder infection which had been diagnosed the day before. She was put on high-powered antibiotics to try and control the infection, with little response. Caroline's sisters, Suzie West and Diane Gray, drove through the night from Prescott, Arizona, arriving in Montrose about 7:30. Caroline was able to open her eyes and recognize her sisters, as well as Colleen, this morning. The attending doctor had told us that Caroline was just being kept alive by the blood pressure medications, and we decided to stop them, as there was no chance of her coming back from the infection. Her husband Robert, sisters Suzie and Diane, and Colleen, the home health nurse were with her at the end.

Caroline asked to be cremated, and part of her ashes made available at her memorial service for people to take and spread wherever they wish. The memorial sevice date will be posted later when determined, but will be after the movie she was making about having cholangiocarcinoma is finished. In lieu of flowers, please send your donations to Second Chance Humane Society based in Ridgway, Colorado, the Ouray Public Library, Hospice and Pallitive Care of Western Colorado, or

Thank you to all our friends and to everyone who has corresponded with Caroline over the last two years of this journey. We gained so much support from so many friends and relatives, and families of fellow cholangio sufferers. Our love to you all.
Robert Stoufer, husband of Caroline

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Something New to Live For; Headed to Los Alamos

New bass guitar! Thanks to Steve & Ruth for sending the bass guitar. This will give me a new interest in life.

We are headed to Los Alamos, New Mexico to do a gem & mineral show. Then I come back next week do chemo again at St. Mary's in Grand Junction.

I'm sorry I've not been e-mailing or blogging. I have to put my leg in a difficult position to sit at the computer.

We saw three bald eagles on our way to Montrose last weekend. We have a bit of snow in our front yard.

Gotta run. Have to leave later today.

Thank you for all your prayers.

Just up here in Colorado staying warm.

Sincerely, Caroline

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sorry I haven't blogged in two weeks!

We went to Socorro two weekends ago. I got to see my New Mexico friends, Dave & Mary Lou Comer and Toni Duggan. My sister Suzie came from Prescott and we went to the widlife refuge. We saw a coyote there. Got home and did poetry classes again and then went to Denver for a second time to talk to Dr. Durham and SIRT spheres. She said the juandice is an issue and I have to get my billirubin down below two and it's at 8 currently.

Dr. Bergen in Grand Junction referred me to Dr. Durham in Denver. So did Dr. Kane from CU Med Center. They also want me to see another oncologist at CU Med Center, but Dr. Durham said we don't know if that was necessary. So last week, we saw Dr. Bergen on Thursday for a bone hardener infusion, then drove to Denver that night for our appointment with Dr. Durham. There is another chemo that Dr. Durham thinks I should try, as well as Dr. Bergen.

I also have an appointment for a stent replacement and to watch for malignancy in the liver bile duct in Denver with Dr. Fukami on January 16th.

I have felt tired, dizzy, confused, clumsy, pain, and fatigued. I still have hearing loss in my left ear. My hair is growing back which is nice. I'm going to a luncheon next week in Grand Junction for my support group which I always enjoyed.

And my 53rd birthday on Sunday! So I will make it another year.

Thanks again for cards, letters, help, support, prayers.

Just up here in Ouray happy to get one year older.

Sincerely, Caroline

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Doing Better

We got home Saturday from the surgery on Friday. I rested up on Sunday, attended two writing classes, one Monday, one Tuesday. Jaundice isn't gone, but is much better. And I confess: I bowled last night at the Elks in my league for the first time this year. My average was 66! But I had a good time. Unfortunately, my feet are swolen today as a result. I weigh 178 pounds and every week it's a challenge to find thingst to wear; hence, the gastroenterologist gave me an RX for a diuretic. He said it's mostly fluid build-up.

I saw both my oncologist and gastroenterologist today in Grand Junction. I'm to check in with Dr. Durham at CU Med Center in Denver to see about radioactive spheres or chemoembolization. I liked her very much and am willing to work with her. I also need to see if there's any clinical trials out there. I have a friend doing stem cell therapy at MD Anderson and that is another possibility.

I am going to Socorro, NM tomorrow with Robert for a gem & mineral show. There's a wildlife refuge near there that I really enjoy. I posted a picture last year from our trip there. There are Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese - they make they neatest noise. My sister Suzie is coming from Arizona - it's her day to watch me.

So thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers. I meant to call some friends in Denver while I was in the hospital, but my throat was sore from the ERCP. I also have a clogged ear from lying on my side for almost four hours and I can't hear out of it very well. I used an ear irrigator and apparently made it worse.

Just up here in Colorado, truly appreciating every day I have left, and looking forward to seeing the big birds in New Mexico again.

Sincerely, Caroline

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Stent Placement Not So Good

We went to Denver last Thursday after I had a platelet transfusion in Grand Junction. We went into CU-Anshcutz Oncology Center for an outpatient surgery expected to tak two hours, but it took almost twice as long. They were only able to implant one stent in on of the contortef bile ducts, and they had to go through the stomach wall. I was kept for observation on Friday night and realeasd Saturday to come home.

They say it'll take a week fot the jaundice to go away. One of the bile ducts may have a malignancy. I kept aski for solid food - I hadn't eaten in two nigts. I got jello, broth, juice etc. I feel not so bad right now, but I'm taking losts of meds for pain. They put me on some antiobiotics for a few days for infection.

I see my main onocologist on Wednesday, Nov. 12th in GJ, the gastroenterologit on Nov.20th. We are planning to go to the Socorro Mineral Symposium this Thursday. I'm feeling up to it and my sister Suzie should be there.

Did I mention that our car broke down last Wednesday on our way home from GJ. Looks like it'll just be the clutch. We called our friends, Art & Brenda Fox. Thanks guys.

I also saw a bear in our yard last week. He ripped a limb off the apple tree and just reclined against one of our box elders. I was searching in vain for my camera. Then a car load of tourists came by and started taking pictures and the bear whipped around the back of our house.

I don't know exactly what's next for me, but I'm going to talk to this tumor, tell my bile duct to untangle. I appreciate your thougts, love, and prayers. It helps keep me going.

I will go back to CU-Med for another stent implant in about 7-8weeks. These stents are plastic and have to be replaced every few months. I worry about the infection that comes along with these stents going in and out of your body.

Just up here in Colorado looking forward to winter and a time of release.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Going to Denver for Stents Tomorrow

My gastroenteroligist is unable to do my stents - he only does them if they are real simple, but the blockages are way up where the liver bile duct branches. So we are headeded tomorrow to get stent implants in my bile duct on Friday. They will do this by going down through my throat. If that doesn't work, t hey'll go in through the ribs.

I'm sorry that I haven't called anyone from Denver to hook up, but we're not sure what to expect. We're trying to get the American Cancer Society to get us some discounted rooms, but it's short notice, so we may just stay at Motel 6, and try to see Ian for dinner one night. I may have to stay over for observation.

I have to get a blood transfusion in Grand Juctiion tomorrow at 9:30 am to get my platelets up. Then, we'll head to Denver and spend the next two nights there.

If you need to reach me, call Ian, my stepson at 303-368-7756 at home. You may reach his mother Grace. I don't think she'll mind if anyone calls. Or try Motel 6 in Aurora.

I may have to stay one night at the hospital for observation.

I am slowly working my way through e-mails and I know I owe a lot of you responses. I'll try to get caught up soon.

I have scoot, much to do before we leave for Grand Junction at 7am tomorrow.

Just up here in Colorado, going to the doctor almost every day.

Sincerely, Caroline

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Am Jaundiced

I have a lot to catch up on but the most recent thing is that I really had a hard time after my last FOLFOX on Wednesday, Oct. 17th. I started noticing my eyes turning yellow on Sunday. It appears I have a bile duct blockage and will need a stent soon. I saw Dr. Kane, a specialist from Denver yesterday. She said some tumors may have grown in my liver and are squeezing the bile duct or I may have a tumor in the bile duct itself. I was so tired this weekend that I slept a whole bunch. I got mouth sores really bad - it was hard to talk, eat, or drink.

Dr. Kane is recommending that I not do FOLFOX next Wednesday, Oct. 31st. She is also recommending seeing a gastroenterologist and possibly some other doctors in Denver for ERCP and some interventional radition therapy such as the SIRT spheres.

I had an ultrasound on my liver yesterday which was inconclusive.

We have had several snows here but the last one was on a Sunday when I couldn't move, so it was nice to watch the snow fall. But the last few days have been outrageously gorgeous - very sunny.

I must apologize - I owe phone calls and e-mails to several friends. I don't think I've checked my e-mail for two weeks.

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers.

Just up here in Colorado soaking up the sunshine before too much more winter gets here.

Sincerely, Caroline

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Recent Photos

I'm still not realy good with this photo stuff.

Photo of me with woman in maroon sweats is Leslie Stoufer, my sister-in-law from Mississippi.
We're on the Durango-Silverton train. She heads a surgery unit in Jackson.

The photo of me with the woman in red hair is long time friend, Alana Miller. She lives in Colorado Springs and has an older daughter that graduated from Colorado School of Mines with an engineering degree, and her youunger daughter just graduated from Embry Midlin here in Prescott. She now has a job in Phoenix. These women are not afraid of science. Alana works for Barnes & Noble now and we always talk about books.

The picture of me in the cowboy shirt is with Jeff & Sharon Rowe and Pete & Barb Crossan.
They live in Salida, although Barb and Pete will be spending some time in Florida tis year.

The black lab puppy belongs to my friend Margaret Park Thomas and her daughter Taylor. He looks very much like a black lab we had growing up named Black Jack.

The yellow tabby in the bed is my constant companion Biscuit.

Next is Ruth, a breast cancer survivor whose hair has grown back. She's been a great inspiration to me. We were diagnosed with cancer about the same time.

Next is a photo of my husband Robert and stepson Ian in front of Ian's favorite vegetarian restaurant in Denver, The Watercourse. Ian is a vegan - doesn't eat any animal products.

Then we have a classic shot of the Durango-Silvetrton train which I rode last week with Robert's brother Mike and his wife Leslie. It was wonderful!

Lastly, I have a picture of Robert feeding a doe an apple off our apple tree. The deer and bears have really been wreaking havoc on that poor little tree.

All for now. Must scoot.

Sincerely, Caroline

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Having a Wonderful Time in Arizona

We met my sister Suzie and brother-in-law Al at Williams, AZ last Friday and rode the train to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It was great fun. I do believe the view is prettier from the north rim. My sister Diane and I went to an air show on Saturday and had a blast. I'd never been to an air show before, and it was amazing what those guys did. Diane is a retired flight attendant for American Airlines where she worked for 31 years, and I flew for Reeve Aleutian Airways back in 1975 in Alaska. What an adventure it was.

I'm gettting a facial on Wednesday and a hair trim. Not that I have that much to cut, but I just want to shape my hair up. I'm passing from the Sinead O'Connor to the Mia Farrow "Rosemary's Baby" look. I do have super-puffy checks from the steroids and a good appetite. Last night my sister Suzie made chicken pot pie like my mother used to make.

Have I mentioned that I am able to give myself a shot now. If I don't do it for a few days, I start gettting afraid of it again. That phobia has a name, but I can't think of it right now.

During the book show, I did go see a specialist regarding SIRT spheres and am looking into that. That particular doctor suggested some other things as well such as tweaking chemo. The FOLFOX appears to have stablized the tumors in my liver, but it is hard on the soft tissues in my head - septum, esophagus, brain cells? I don't know how long I can do this regimen, so I'm being proactive and looking into some things for the future.

Anyway, if anyone wants to call me at my sister's house, the number is 928-776-0202. My cell phone is 970-596-1068, but it's not working great here.

Thanks again to everyone for your support. I think it keeps me going!

Just down here in Arizona enjoying some wide open spaces.

Sincerely, Caroline

PS My sisters and I went to see "3:10 to Yuma" and it was very good.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Headed to Arizona

We leave today for Arizona. We will be staying in Williams and ride the train to the Grand Canyon tomorrow. We rode the train from Durango to Silverton yestserday and it was wonderful. The aspens on the Durango side were perfect. We got some snow on Red Mountain Pass, so those leaves might not be as pretty. The cottonwoods in our valley are beautiful right now as are the aspens near Ridgway and just out of town here in Ouray. Oktoberfest is this weekend, but I will miss it this year. I'm going to go to my sister's house in Prescott for about 10 days. This will give Robert some respite, plus he has budget meetings three days next week for City Council.

Better run. Got lots of packing to do yet.

Just up here in Colorado, enjoying the fall, friends and family.

Sincerely, Caroline

Sunday, September 30, 2007

So Much to Look Forward To

We have had a wonderful time here at the Mountins & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference. So good to see many friends - booksellers, book reps, etc We've gotten lots of advanced reading copies of books. Our hotel, the Marriott, has the most conformtable bed, so I've been taking naps in the afternoon which is really helpful.

We have learned a lot at this show. Robert wants to do a You-Tube and a My Space for the bookstoe. So watch for that later.

We got to have dinner with Robert's son Ian last night at an Indian restaurant. It was good. He leaves tomorrow to do a show in Las Vegas. Last week, he was in Columbus, OH. The kid gets around with his new job.

Thanks to Jan Smith of Western Reflections Publishing - one of my loyal blog readers. She was in a cancer fundraiser in Lake City, CO and had a luminaria lit in my honor. Thanks, Jan.

Sorry I haven't gotten to see some of you on this trip. The book show is intense, and when I got tired, I went to the room and took a nap. Jody, I will catch up with you when I get home.

I hope to get home in time to do part of my radio show on KURA-LP, 98.9, Ouray, CO. I don't know how to stream it yet, but if you are into that, just look them up on the internet. I'm usually on Sunday afternoons, but I've either been out of town or sick and it's been about a month.

I'm also still working on the film with the kids at the local high school.

Robert's brother Mike Stoufer and his wife Leslie are on their way to Ouray as I type this. They will be in tomorrow morning. We will be riding the Durang-Silverton train on Tuesday. Later in the week, we are going to the Grand Canyon and riding the train from Williams, AZ up to the canyon. My sistert Suzie and her husband Al will meet us and I will go home with Suzie the next week. While there, my cousin Nancy is coming in from Florida for a visit. Then I get back about Oct. 15th and have chemo on Oct. 17th.

Robert tells me it's time to hit the road. The aspens should be peaking in our area if it didn't snow on them while we were gone.

Just up here in Colorado, soaking it all in! Thanks everyone for everything.

Sincerely, Caroline

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Headed Back to Denver for Book Show, Not Doing Play in Montrose

Robert & I will leave for Denver for the Mountains & Plains Indepenedent Booksellers semi-annual conference later today. This is always a really fun event for us - good classes, get to meet authors, hear about new books.

Thanks to good friends Barb & Pete Crossan and Sharon & Jeff Rowe of Salida who came over last night for a visit and bought us dinner! Thanks guys! I'll get your picture posted on the internet soon.

I had FOLFOX last Friday. They raised my dosage as I have gained weight. We attended a seminar on Saturday (50 Essential Things to Do If You Have Cancer by Greg Anderson who has a book out by the same title. He has written other books as well. He is a 24 year cancer survivor.) Then on Sunday, I hit the big slump. I was so fatigued I couldn't move. I missed my radio show, play practice for Vignettes of History. I will miss the next play practice , so I've decided not to try fly back home for the performance on Saturday in Montrose, but I encourage any of you to attend as it is very good. (It's at Magic Circle Theater in Montrose at 2pm and 7pm with refreshments served afterwards by Camp Robber Cafe.) After hitting the wall with chemo on last Sunday, Roberat & I both felt it was better that I not travel alone.

My last liver scan came back unchanged! So this FOLFOX chemo seems to be working. I'm still investigating SIR spheres - anyone out there have any experience with them? My tumor marker was up in the 8,000 range which is quite a bit but could mean that cancer cells are dying.

We are trying to get ready to leave town, so I have to scoot. The aspen leaves are starting to peak and we've had beautiful crisp fall days.

Just up here in Colorado enjoying another fall! Love to you all.

Sincerely, Caroline

Monday, September 17, 2007

Back Home From Denver - Headed to GJ Tonight - Saw Radiation Oncologist in Denver

We got home from Denver a few hours ago. Robert had an important City Council meeting he didn't want to miss, so we came home and will head up to Grand Junction tonight for a CT scan at 8:30 tomorrow morning. We have two other doctor's appointments. One with a psychiatrist for med management and one with a talking therapist to deal with depression and other losses associated with having cancer and losing so many people.

I met with a Dr. Durham last Friday in CU Anschutz Cancer Center in Denver. I liked her very much and we had a good meeting about doing SIR spheres or radioactive seeds in the hepatic arteries. She said I don't really have any tumors to treat in my live bile duct or colon, and she offered several options for targeting tumors in my liver where I have twelve tumors, four - six which were problematic at my lasat scan. Hopefully my scan tomorrow will show some stabilization. She said she usually gets people at a more advanced stage than me, and she felt that I was relatively young and in good health for this procedure which involves putting Yttrium-90 isotope into my hepatic artery. I am up for a little radioactivity. I will consult with my regular oncologist on this and a specialist in Denver whom I have worked with before.

We had a pretty good show in Denver. I mostly enjoyed seeing lots of old friends. Last year during the gem show, we also had a book show so I attended that while Robert did the gem show. So I hadn't had a chance to see many friends I knew back in the 80's and 90's from both Denver and Dallas, too.

I tried to stay out of crowds, but it's so hard not to hug old friends. I've been really sleepy and tired today, but I did wake up for a while last night, and I may be recovering sleep.

Wish me luck on my CT-scan tomorrow.

Just up here in Colorado, weighing the options.

Sincerely, Caroline

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Headed to Denver Gem & Mineral Show

We are headed to Denver tomorrow for the Denver Gem & Mineral Show. I will see one of the radiation oncologists at CU Med Center, but the oncologist I was to see on Monday had to cancel her appointment. I have to keep a low profile at the show - my platelets and white blood cells are low and I need to avoid crowds. Hard for me, a social butterfly to do. I haven't been able to have chemo the last two times. I'm taking more of my medications to get the neuropathy, pain, leg swelling, and sleep under control. That involves managing laxatives as well. As I've said before, all the best medicine either plug you up or the opposite.

We did the True Grit Days last weekend in Ridgway, 10 miles from Ouray. I got to meet Kim Darby, Johnny Crawford of the Rifleman, and Angie Dickenson. I got my picture taken with Angie. Everyone in town who dealt with her said she was very nice. She told me she hated to leave on Sunday because she was enjoying Ridgway and the people.

Anyway, I will blog more later from Denver.

Thanks for all your support and kindness.

Just up here in Colorado getting ready to leave town again. I like to travel. Glad to be here one more day.

Sincerely, Caroline

Monday, September 03, 2007


I made it to Dallas just fine on United Airlines last Thursday. They were very helpful and accomodating. I fly out again today. I'm glad I had yesterday to recuperate and got to see many friends and family members: AC & Jean Pass (cousins); Mike VanderBerg (my investment advisor who has stared a new non-denominational church on the west side of Ft. Worth); Darlene - a friend of Suzie's from their early days just out of high school working at National Bank of Commerce in the LTV building in downtow Dallas - I thought they were so sophisticated; Suzie's classmate Ronnie Cruse whose sister, Gail Cruse was cheerleader with my sister Diane and is the optometrist at Wal-Mart in Montrose where I now get all my eye check-ups.

It was great to have a rotation of visitors yesterday. I was recovering from having too much fun (i.e. junk food). I got a serious case of stomach upset at the reunion and all the sudden had to leave. I had so hope to do the "Gator" in the dance floor with Charlie Daniel, a friend nearer my sister's age, but it didn't happen. Charlie & I agreed that we could probably get down in the floor but would need help to get back up! Charlie's little sister Sondra was one of our dearest friends from my grade. I'm sorry, Sondra, I didn't get to see you this trip.

Margaret and I were very close friends growing up in Duncanville. Her father loved to feed us. Mr. Park took me to breakfast on Friday and we had the meat lover's Grand Slam. Afterward, he asked if I wanted a chocolate shake! He had one, but I had a cup of tea. Margaret, her daughter Tay, and I have been having hamburgers at all the places I can't get them like Whataburger. I did make my sister Suzie take me by Jack in the Box for two tacos when I first flew in. On Friday night, we went to a Mexican restaurant for one of Suzie's reunion meals, and I buried my face in a plate of Tex-Mex. I love New Mexican/Coloradoan Mexican food with red and/or green chili, but occasionally, I need that El Fenix or even El Chico fix.

I got a horrible case of the d-word at the reunion. It was probably the BBQ sauce on the delicious brisket. Could have been the snow cone from earlier in the day. Anyway, I had to leave the reunion in a hurry as not to embarrass anyone. I did have a few rounds in the bathroom that night at home, but mostly slept like a baby. I think I'm caught up on my sleep and on a schedule more consistent with the real world.

One of the reunion highlights was a tour of Duncanville High School. It is amazing! DHS is the second largest school in the nation based on square footage, but they have incredible sports complexes (this was and still is a great place for football in the fall - the TV show Friday Night Lights brings back memories of going to footbal games on Friday nights. There's a point in the fall in Texas where the hot weather breaks and you feel a little crisp snap in the air, leaves start to turn on the trees, and it's football weather). The high school has a beautiful kitchen for culinary arts where the students can practice and sell their wares to the students and faculty. Being such a big complex, they have halls in various departments with names of scientists, authors, artists, etc. The art department, dance studio, band and choir rooms with private practice rooms were all fabulous. The oldest part of the school is reserved for the freshman, yet this was the new part of the school when Suzie's class graduated in 1967. 1966 was the first one to use the new school. Girl's basketball was always big here, and they still host the AAUW girls high school tournament here every Christmas break. Back in our day, the girls had to play half-court. I guess they thought it would kill us to run up and down the whole thing.

One of the other treats of this trip is that Margaret and Tay have a brand new lab puppy named Relay. On Friday, I took him out for most of the warm morning which made me perspire quite a bit. I think I sweated out some toxins and some fluids which helped my infammations. And you wouldn't believe how well I'm walking - hardly having to use the cane, and trying to do some PT exercises. Relay looks like a dog we had growing up named Black Jack, so my sisters and I are having fond memories of that childhood pet.


* Sept. 4th (Tues) Support Group, Tuesday, Oct. 4th, St. Mary's Grand Junction

* Sept. 5th (Wed) 9am, Chemo and Visit with Oncolologist at St. Mary's in Grand Junction

* Sept. 7th (Fri) PT - Noon- Ridgway

* Sept. 14th (Fri) 11:00am, CU Anschutz Med Center Tumor Board, Dr. Durham, Radiation Oncology, Denver

*Sept. 17th (Mon) 8:30am, CU Anschutz Med Ceter Tumor Board, Dr. Tracy Shefter, Oncology, Denver

*Sept. 18th (Tues) 10am, Dr. Sammons, Psychiatrist, Grand Junction for Medication Management

*Sept. 18th (Tues) 3pm, Fran Higgins, Therapist, Grand Junction - Talking Therapy

*Sept. 21st (Fri) 9am, Chemo & Visit with Oncologist at St. Mary's in Grand Junction

*Sept. 22nd (Sat) 8:30am - 4pm, Cancer: 50 Essential Things** , Grand Junction, $65/person

*Sept. 24th (Mon) 2pm, Fran Higgins, Talking Therapy - Grand Junction

** Note: This is the best book I' ve found on Cancer


*Sept. 8th & 9th - True Grit Days in Ridgway - we'll have a booth there under Buckskin Booksellers

*Sept. 12th - 17th - Denver Gem & Mineral Show - Main Show (Actual Dates Friday, 14th - Sunday, 16th) - Doing this show under coloradominerals. com. Our booth is down one f the hallways on the left as you come in the front door. I don't think they'll move us from last year's location.

*Sept. 26th - 30th - Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association (MPIBA) - we will attend as buyers and attend many good free seminars.

*Sept. 29th - Vignettes of History - I will portray Verena Jacobson (Mining camp school teacher) at the Montrose Magic Circle Playhouse at 2pm and 7pm. (I'll have to leave the book show early).

Oct. 4th - 6th - Visit Grand Canyon with Robert's brother Mike & Sister-in-Law Leslie.

Oct. 7th - ? - Visit sisters in Prescott, Arizona

Al, you've been so helpful to Ronnie Cruse (who's in a wheelchair), and me and my cane. Thank you for your help and patience. You're awesome!

Thanks, too, to Margaret Park Thomas, daughter Taylor, Mr. & Mrs. Park, DHS Class of 1967, and everyone who made a special trip to see me. You keep my motor running!

Just down here in Tejas - getting all my junk food fixes!

Sincerely, Caroline

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I'm flying out tomorrow moring early for Dallas to attend my sister Suzie's 40th (really her 41st) class reunion in Duncanville, TX. My sister Diane will be joining us as well - this would be her 40th reunion. It would be my 35th. I am staying with my classmate from Duncanville, Margaret Park Thomas and her daughter Taylor (thanks ladies). It'll be fun to see people from Suzie's class and some friends my age as well.

I was able to have chemo last Friday. Blood counts were good or close to normal. We went to a movie afterwards, Becoming Jane, about Jane Austin and spent the night in Grand Junction. On Saturday, I was able to attend my retreat, and Robert ran errands and saw The Bourne Ultimatimum. We liked both movies very much. I went down with chemo side effects on Saturday night and couldn't do my radio show on Sunday. I started coming out of it on Monday. I think I got psyched about a trip to Montrose to see my radiation oncologist and his nurse who are awesome.

I saw my radiation oncologist on Monday. I told him that I thought my "radiation recall" was due to my bowling last winter/spring. He said to continue doing the things I love. So I hope to get back into bowling this fall. With my physical therapy, I think my leg should bend enough to bowl or I can request that the Elks let me use a wheelchair. I got one of those big plastic balls at physical therapy and I really like doing PT on it. I can do otherexercises, too, lying down.

We have friends in town from Delaware - Steve & Ruth and their boys Chad & Ryan. Steve is going to let me borrow a bass guitar of his which I've always wanted to take up. The boys are really good at baseball, and Chad is an expert on trains. Steve & Ruth are great parents.

We also had friends in town that I know from Duncanville: Clifton and Bobette (Brattis) Hyman and Jim & Phala (Bryant) Watkins?.

I still have a bunch of packing to do. We have to leave by 7 am tomorrow morning.

Thanks again to everyone for your love and suipport.

Sincerely, Caroline

P.S. My radio show is 1pm-4pm CDT on your dial at 98.9, KURA, Ouray, Colorado or can be streamed at (I have no idea how to do the stream.) The phone number at KURA is 970-325-7289.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Good Afternoon -

We will head to Grand Junction (GJ) first thing tomorrow morning. Blood draw is at 9 am, we see Dr. Bergen at 9:30, and hopefully we'll have chemo for the rest of the day. We are spending the night at a motel that the American Cancer Society got us a discount on. Hopefully, I feel well enough to go to the retreat just outside during the day on Saturday.

Another person is going to run for mayor which take a lot pressure off us. I told Robert today that we rarely have leisure time together and we both tend to be cranky, given our busy summer. He will remain on city council. The current mayor who can't run for mayor again due to term limits may run for a council seat. That leaves two seats from the other ward to fill. I am releived. The stress of having cancer is enough. It takes all day just to take my meds and manuever around the house with my bad leg.

My heart goes out to the Dave Hoskins Family whom I know through Dave flung himself into life as long as he could, and his wife Edith was incredibly supportive. He lost his battle last week.

That's the news for now.

Just up here in Colorado trying to get things done.

Sincerely, Caroline

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


First of all, I've been trying to blog all last week and it wouldn't let me change some things on the dashboard. I want to set up permanent photos and web links, and I just can't get it do any of that . If anyone can help me with this, please let me know. I need to contact the help desk, too.

Hairless Photo in front of Mt. Abrams: Here I am about 5 miles north of Ouray. I may have cancer, but when I look at these mountains, I sure don't want to leave this earth. The cemetery is on the left of the photograph. Thanks to Glenda Moore, whose husband has done well on my current chemo regimen of FOLFOX, for taking me out to the cemetery today to check on the headstone. Just a little bird poop and a few weeds grown up around it. We've had so much rain lately that it gets washed quite often. The view across the valley was incredible today. We've been having clear weather. And how 'bout my raccoon eyes! I've always had dark circle, but chemo really brings it out. If anyone knows about a great concealer for under the eyes, I'm all ears!
Old Time Photo: This other picture was taken about four years ago - my stepson Ian give us a gift certificate to the Old-Tyme Photo Gallery in Ouray. We sure had fun doing these pictures, and this is my favorite. THAT IS my husband Robert in the photo without his glasses. I do miss my hair. It is coming in and quite dark brown with some curls, but it's still awfully short and thin. It is cooler in the summer without a wig, but then again my head will get cold at night. I have several caps in which I can sleep. I guess that's what they did in the old days. Thanks to Polly Griggers for my latest red crocheted hat and to Maude (80 years old - I'm so jealous) from my support group in Grand Junction (GJ) who sewed me up a more traditional one. Robert doesn't like the wigs, but I'm going to have one re-styled. Sometimes I just want a break from the Sinead O'Conner look. I do have plenty of hats and scarves.
Last week, I played Verena Jacobson, a school teacher from the 1920's here in Ouray, at the Ouray County Museum's "Walk Back in History". Because of the rain, we couldn't be posted on the sidewalks around town - we held it all inside at the Museum. Verena taught mostly up at the Revenue Mine above the Camp Bird. She has great stories to tell included in many books, but I got to view her last week on a video from the Museum's archives, so I adjusted my voice to try to sound more like her. We first did this performance last fall at the Wright Opera House as a "Women in Colorado History" type performance, and we're taking it to Montrose to the playhouse there the last weekend in September. This will be the big stage for me! I didn't think last winter I'd be alive for either last week's performance or the one in Montrose, but surprise, I'm still here.
We have friends here this week from New Zealand, Ross & Pauline. Robert went rock-hounding today at the Upper Camp Bird Mine. They didn't find much, but Robert was able to point out some ore specimens today to Ross who is a professor of geography from Christchurch. (Boy would I like to go there someday - don't put your vacations off. I'm not sure I'll ever get overseas again, but there's plenty in our back yard here in the Four Corners area. Ross and his wife both deal with geography, and they say there's a statistic that the closer you are to your cancer center/oncologist, the better your odds of survival.
Robert is going to try to go out in the mountains tomorrow with George Moore to do the second volume of Mines, Mountain Roads, and Rocks which has been a bestseller for us.
Okay, I have to go to my bedtime meds and hit the hay. If Robert wakes up and finds me on the computer, he'll have a fit. I did get to go back to physical therapy today, and it helps so much. I am determined to bowl again this fall.
More tomorrow. I'm scheduled for chemo this Friday, and plan to attend a support group retreat on Saturday if I feel up to it. I am looking for a ride home from GJ Saturday afternoon if anyone is going to be in the area.
Robert may possibly be running for Mayor this fall. One of the city council members from the other side of town resigned at Monday's council meeting over a lodging tax/affordable housing issue. We liked her very much and hate to see her go. That leaves only Robert who holds a seat until 2009 of the four council members plus the mayor. The Mayor is term limited and can't run again: however; she can run for a council seat on our side of town (called a ward). The other council member from our ward is up for re-election, but he is moving out of that side of town and has chosen not to run again. One of the council member from the other ward, up for election this year, is not running again as he is battling cancer. Anyway, if you are reading this and you're a registered voter in our ward, Robert needs signatures on his petition.
Just up here in Colorado taking advantage of the local organic produce and appreciating every extra day I get.
Sincerely, Caroline

Friday, August 17, 2007

Quick Update

I have been feeling better this week, but it's been very hectic with work and fun stuff. I did have chemo last week on the 9th, went to Buena Vista on the 10th (last Friday), went into a slump on Saturday, and started coming out of it on Tuesday or so.

I have an appointment with the tumor board at CU Denver-Anschutz Center on Monday, Sept. 17th. I get to go back to PT next week on the Aug 22nd. I started giving myself shots again this week so I can do it when I go to Dallas and meet my sisters for Suzie's 40th reunion. My dear friend Margaret Park Thomas is letting me stay with her.

I miss my hair more than I thought I would, but it it slowly coming in.

Delaney - I'll try to get back to you first thing tomorrow morning. Jody - I owe you a phone call and need to pick your brain about something. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you.

Darlene - I'm sorry I didn't get back to you today. We got wrapped up in some business stuff this afternoon we didn't anticipate.

Good new is that my left leg is working better. Still a little sore, but better and I'm encouraged.

I have to go to bed. I'm dead on my feet. I could not sleep last night.

Just up here in Colorado, blowing and going. I"m sleepy now and need to give into it.

Thanks, everyone for your support. Sincerly, Caroline

PS I found out my new boyfriend from senior meals, George Swift,is more like 100 years old than 90. He's 98. What an inspiration!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wish Me Luck! (Chemo Scheduled Tomorrow)

This is a quick note as it is late and I need to hit the hay.

I'm scheduled for chemo tomorrow or actually today, so we leave early for Grand Junction. We hope to head over to Buena Vista aterward for the Contin-Tail, a rock swap. I told my husband Robert I can just as easily recover from chemo in the back seat of the car and a motel room as easily (almost) as I can at home.

I have two requests of the universe: better non-alcoholic wine and designer Depends. Is there some wine-maker out there who can do a better job with non-alcoholic wine? Fre is not so bad. Non-alcholic beer is pretty good. My friends tell me they're sorry that I can't drink - the oncologist said no alcohol while on chemo, and besides it's bad for your liver. Anyway, I remind them that with all the drugs I'm taking, I'm having a better time than anyone. Drugs can be fun, but I would give anything to have a day when I get to be "straight". Save drugs for when you really need them.

Okay, I have to go take a pill. Actually about six.

Thanks again everyone for everything. It's been a little hard staying positive this week, but I usually win that battle. Sometimes I just have to talk myself into it.

I owe a lot of people cards, calls, e-mails and I am so behind. I just wrote three postcards and can't find them. Chemo brain. My nose (septum) and esophagus hurt. If those tissues have worn away, it really worries me about what is happening to my brain. I have becmoe a real clutz. I drop things constantly or knock them over or catch things on my sleeve. I miss having hair more than I thought I would. Robert doesn't like me to wear wigs, and they would be hot now. I'm going to get one of them restyled. Okay, enough whining. I do know lots of people who have it worse than me.

Don't tell my husband this, but George Swift from senior meals is my new boyfriend. We've sat by each other on the bus to senior meals the last two weeks (the bus is really the senior van). Last week George kissed my hand, but he also kissed the new lady the week before. George is about 90 old, but he doesn't mind that I have a walker now.

Well hell, it's time to get up and go to Grand Junction, and I haven't slept. I can sleep on the way. That'll make Robert happy because he doesn't really like me to talk in the car.

Sincerely, Caroline

P.S. I tried to download some photos, but I couldn't figure out how. Google wanted me to sign some agreement, and I'll try to figure that out later.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Couldn't Do Chemo Yesterday

Tuesday, we drove to Grand Junction to spend the night so I could be ready to go for chemo first thing yesterday morning at 8:30 am. My platelets, white blood cells, and neutrophiles were too low. I've probably been around too many people and germs, although the oncoologist said you can infect yourself at home. So I've been cleaning things with a bleach solution and throwing out old sponges, expired foods, etc. As much as I hate to do it, I'll probably have to avoid crowds. My tumor marker is back up to 5000+ but Dr. B said my liver didn't feel enlarged.

We had a writing workshop here in Ouray last week which I participated in, plus I've been atttending other things at night like Shakespeare in the park last Sunday. Looks like I'll miss book club tonight - we're reading The Power of One by Bryce Courtney. I haven't gotten to it yet, but everyone says it's excellent. I've been reading lots of medical stuff plus things from the writing workshops last week. The short, short story seems to be all the rage right now in literary journals.

Thanks to Moosie, our friend in GJ for putting us up Tuesday night and the wonderful dinner you cooked, particularly those feta cheese & peach-stuffed poblano peppers. We did go see Hairspray on Tuesday night and Harry Potter on Wednesday afternoon both of which I really enjoyed.

I'm going down to one steroid split in half per day which I try to take as early in the day as possible. I also picked up a blood pressure medication today. My blood pressure has been running high which is unusual for me - it's usually perfect. It's also for edema, or swelling in the leg which can be a side effect of cancer, but it's probably more from the meds. My left leg is bruised and swelling really bad. The blood thinner for the blood clot has a lot tod do with bruising. I fell off our porch one morning last week. I had overslept due to taking several things at night to help sleep. The next morning, Robert thought I should just rest, and I was late for Pam Houston's writing class. So I was in a tearing hurry and just bounded off the porch. But I picked myself up and got to Pam Houston's class and didn't think twice about it. I was preoccupied with all the good writing of the other students. Pam also critiqued a work of mine and what she had to say was very encouraging. I have taken Pam's class three times now and always gotten something out of it. (She wrote Cowboys Are My Weakness, Sight Hound, Waltzing the Cat, and has a new short story collection coming out. She has been anthologized in many literay journals (most notably Best American Short Stories of the Century), and won many awards.

My left leg is somewhat unreliable. It's usually fine in the morning when I try to do things like laundry or housecleaning, but then I have to sit with it up in the afternoon with ice. I also use Lidocaine patches. This is from the radiation recall caused by Gemzar. I have to use a cane, and I even got a walker today with a seat. (I like to go around town like Hugh Laurie's character on the TV show House and smack poeple with my hat and tell them to quit smoking.) I did walk four blocks down from our house to the Bon Ton last Sunday morning to be at brunch with some people from the writing workhshop. Then I did my radio show, then I went to Shakespeare in the Park. I have to face it - I can't fling myself into life like I used to. That's okay because I have lots of writing, reading, and knitting to do, and really there's some great stuff on TV. I just upgraded our package so I can get more movie channels and Animal Planet. I usually watch PBS and the History Channel.

I get rather combative at night when I have to go to bed. We're learning to use any stimulating drugs or vitamins in the morning and leave the painkillers, Neurotin (for neuropathy), and sleeping pills for night. I do get obsessive about staying up late due to that fact that I don't know when this cancer will overcome me, and I have so much I want to get done. I could throw a blood clot anytime. And I have been fighting this shit for almost two years now. I told my oncologist I wanted to be one of best statistics, and he said you already are. Before cancer, I used to stay up late just because I enjoyed doing so much, but now I do feel much better when I get a good night's sleep. (Hear that sister Suzie! We're old. We need our sleep.)

Drugs are wonderful, but what I would give to be straight for a day or longer. Save your drugs for when you really need them! I do try to take advantage of the creative rush from steroids and the ability to remember things from the long ago past. I do have chemo brain and can get confused.

Hopefully, the FOLFOX will work. It has worked for our friend and author, George Moore, who wrote Mines, Mountain Roads and Rocks, a local road log for Ouray County and one of our bestsellers. Robert is helping him do the second volume of this book. They are covering the area near Silverton. George used FOLFOX six times and his colon cancer is stable. Many of the treatments for liver bile duct cancer are the same as for colon cancer.

I'm looking into clinical trials again. If it doesn't work, I'll go for one of the "Hail Mary" trials such as stem cell research. Maybe I will end up in Mexico for treatment. My doctor says you can't "out-eat" cancer with nutrition, but I am trying to eat a better diet with little or no sugar or gluten, yet I've read that many people die of malnutrition. I did have two Krispy Kremes today, but I'm phasing those out. I spent all my adult life on a damn diet, so being told to eat more calories is one of the upsides of cancer. After that, I'll try hospice, possibly go live with my sisters in Prescott, or go to a place that deals with cancer patients at the end of their lives. I do get tired of having my loved ones put their lives on hold for me. But I have too much invested in this Folfox to fullfill my duty to die.

Thanks again to everyone for your love, support, prayers, kind thoughts, positive energy and so on. I have to go to the bookstore for a while, but I hope to come back and post some pictures. Jody & Delaney, I got some pics back of Coop from her birthday.

Sincerely, Caroline.

Friday, July 20, 2007



I had a big chemo day on Tuesday and it really knocked me out. I had the FOLFOX - got the pump off yesterday for 5FU which I wear for two days. I also has Zometa, the bone hardener which I think causes my forearms and legs to ache, Aranesp for hemoglobin/red blood cells, and all the other attendant pre-medications for chemo. My platelets were low, but I was still able to have chemo anyway. I have been sleeping a bunch which is a good thing. My CA 19-9 tumor marker was 3821. My liver enzymes were all bit low or high, but nothing of real concern.

My left leg still hurts where they think I have a blood clot, so I'm going up on my steroids to two a day. I'm cutting Zoloft back to 1/4 pill. I try to take my steroids in the a.m. I've been taking Oxycodone for pain which causes constipation, so I try to keep my laxatives in balance with the pain medicattion. I have neuropathy really bad which causes my feet to swell and my mouth to react to cold. I can't have ice cream for the first five days or so after FOLFOX, and we just got Blue Bell, the best ice cream in the country, in Montrose, 35 miles up the road at the Russell Stover's Candy Factory Outlet. If I take Neurontin for for the neuropathy, I am gone. It really knocks me out. My oncologist wants me take it twice a day, but I would be asleep all the time, and it's just too busy right now in Ouray to be knocked out. I think I heard a statistic on TV that this is one of the busiest weeks for tourism.

Speaking of being busy, Harry Potter comes out tonight. We ordered 60 copies and all of them have been spoken for. This is huge for our small town bookstore. I'm hoping to get down to the store for the sale.

Week before last I was at a writing workshop in Taos. I took a memoir class with Barabara Robinette Moss who wrote Change Me Into Zeus's Daughter, Fierce, and she has a new memoir about having a rare form of cancer. I recommend all of her books.

I need to send a big thanks to my friend Jody who assisted me while I was in Taos. Thanks, Jody! Jody helped me give myself blood thinner shots, Alixir. She said I turned white the first day, but then I got better. I am quite a handful at times, so thanks Jody for your help and patience.

Starting tomorrow in Ouray, there's the San Juan Writer's Workshop. There are three fiction sessions that I plan to attend: Pam Painter, Pam Houston, and Robert Olen Butler. If any of you are reading this Pam Painter will have a reading on Sunday night 7/22/07, Pam Houston (Cowboys Are My Weakness, Sight Hound) will read Thursday night 7/26/07, and Pulitzer Prize winner (Good Scent from a Strange Mountain) Robert Olen Butler will read on Saturday night 7/28/07. Author readings are at 6:30 pm with student readings on the same day at 4:00 pm. All the readings are free to the public. I heard Pam Houston read in Taos from her most recent book yet to be published is really funny. The story was written in second person like her first story in the book Cowboys Are My Weakness. Pam has also been anthologized in the Best Short Stories of the Century.

I have to run - my husband just came home to pick me up for the Harry Potter Party - got to get my witch's costume on.

More later. Sincerely, Caroline

Friday, July 13, 2007

Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk

Caroline's long time childhood friend, Margaret Parks Thomas, from Duncanville, Texas, is hoping to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk in Dallas in honor of Caroline.

Margaret must raise at least $2200 in order to participate in the walk. She has a webpage at the Komen website if you would like to donate online:

If any of you reading this are in the Duncanville area, on July 25th Joe's Crab Shack on Highway 67 is making it Margaret Thomas Day for the race - they will donate 10% of every meal sold that day. Wish I was there ---- I'd gladly eat a ton of crabs on Caroline and Maggie's behalf!

Caroline should be home from Taos sometime this evening --- as far as I know, all went well and she had a great time.

Suzie Gray West

Friday, July 06, 2007

Headed to Taos, New Mexico for Memoir Class

My friend, Jody Curphy, is driving me to Taos (as she did last year) for a writing workshop in Taos, NM. We had a great time in 2006 and I'm repeating a memoir class with Barbara Robinette Moss who wrote Change Me Into Zeus's Daughter and Fierce, both excellent memoirs. Barbara is a wonderful teacher as well as an artist. We leave on Saturday and I'll be gone a week.

I got to be in the parade here on the 4th. I was part of the Woman's Club float. Most people didn't recognize me with my very short hairdo. (I have lost my hair and it is coming back in like a bristle brush. I do miss my hair, and I have some wigs, but right now they are too hot to wear.) We have a great Fourth of July here - old fashioned parade, water fights (people try to knock each other down with a very strong water hose from the fire hydrants), and awesome fireworks.- the sound echoing off the mountains in our notch is really something. We had a great day in the bookstore. It was really hot, and no one minded getting wet at the water fights. In fact, this is my 12th Fourth of July here, and it is the first one I can remember where we weren't in sweaters at night. I ate all day - BBQ ribs from the Masons, brisket from the Elks. I escaped to the Elks Rummage Sale for several hours and got some great bargains. I would shop in the sun, sit under the tent at the Elks, get up and shop some more, etc. I was at the bookstore most of the day and saw so many people. I got lots of hug therapy - hope I didn't affect my platelets or white blood cells.

I am sorry to report that a friend of mine in Denver passed away this morning from pancreatic cancer, but she fought for four years - quite a record. I met Margaret Mullen through my friend Jody who's driving me over to Taos. In fact, Margaret had my oncologist while he was at Kaiser Permanente in Denver. We both think he's great. Margaret was at home under hospice care. Her mother said she went to sleep for about three hours and just didn't wake up.

Jody and I are going to Taos in celebration of Margaret's life. When I pass, I want everyone to go to something fun in my honor.

I have to scoot. I got messed up on my meds yesterday and didn't sleep last night, and I'm paying the price today. Have a million things to do before leaving tomorrow.

Sincerely, Caroline

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Received FOLFOX Yesterday

Yesterday I received FOLFOX treatment which takes just about all day. This weekend I'm very tired and taking it easy letting the chemo do its job.

I spoke with the oncologist about the liver scan taken 2 weeks ago - no new metastases and the existing tumors look stable. While my platlets were a little low, my red and white blood cell counts were good and my liver enzymes are very good - my liver is functioning. I'll have to be on the blood thinner shots for the rest of my life as the potential for more blood clots is very high. I believe this chemo will be ongoing indefinitely.

Thanks to everyone for all your prayers and support. Thanks to my sister Suzie for being here right now and typing this for me AND especially to my husband Robert who is a jewel.



P.S. Hopefully I'm going to Taos for a writing conference next week.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Good, Bad, and Incomplete News

I haven't gotten results from the scan on my liver yesterday, but I'm going to try to track someone down by Monday. My oncologist and nurse were running like crazy yeseterday afternoon. I did also have an ultrasound on my left leg and they found a blood clot which is scary. They gave me a blood thinner shot (Elexiter?) and sent Robert home with shots to give me. Already my leg feels better. I also thought I had some TMJ issues, but already that feels better, too. That pain is symmetric in both jaws, and usually if the pain is symmetric, it means it's from chemo or one of the meds. The blood clot means I'm to take it easy and keep my leg up. I also have to avoid getting cut due to the blood thinner. Probably won't be able to do my radio show tomorrow, but who knows. I can keep my leg up there - just have to have someone schlep all my CD's into the station. I'm also to increase my steroids to two per day. Oh boy, Robert's gonna love this.

My bloodwork was really good. White blood cells were above normal. I don't know what I did other than pray like hell they were good. Red blood cells were good, and liver enzymes are normal or just silghtly above or below. So thank you everyone for your prayers, and thank you God for good blood! So I had FOLFOX, Avastin, and Zometa (bone hardener).

Well, I didn't have a chance to vote for Ashlee, but I heard she was one of the ones who got sent home on Thursday night on "So You Think You Can Dance". My friend Lisas says she's capable of doing better, but she got a bad draw for her dance. Perhaps next time.

Robert is at the Mining Artifact Show today, Elwood is running the store, and I may go up later with my foot up at either the show or the store. I'll have had two steroids by then and lots of energy.

Just up here in Colorado enjoying the summer weather. Hope to get up to Camp Bird Road and see the wildflowers soon. Don't know if my hip can take the jiggling in the jeep.

Sincerely, Caroline

PS I was wrong about the tumor marker. It was in the 4400's last time and has been as hight as 11,000+. They took blood for that yesterday, but it always takes a few days to get results.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Scan Tomorrow - Wish Me Luck!

We're headed tonight to Grand Junction (GJ), to spend the night as I have a scan at 7:20 tomorrow morning. This will help to evaluate where we're at. I then see my oncologist at 9am. Hopefully, my red and white blood cells will be where they should be to have the "big" chemo, FOLFOX.

Lisa, a very good friend of mine in Texas whose daughter, Tara, is a Kilgore Rangerette is rooting for Ashlee who was Tara's lieutenant in Rangerettes this past school year. She's on "So You Think You Can Dance".

Last Saturday night, I got a splitting headache in Leadville at bed time. I think it was the altitude, not drinking enough fluids, plus I had just had a huge, be prepared, BM. My head hurt so bad I was in tears. But I tried to relax and Robert talked to me soft and slowly, and it finally went away. I felt good the next day.

My tumor marker has gone down to about 5500 something, down from 14,000. I have "tree rings" in my fingernails - alternating white and pink. I think this represents when I've had the bigger chemo.

My left leg is hurting like hell today. I guess I overdid ityesterday. I had PT and she told me that on humid days, we measure the barometer with our joints and muscles. We have had some rainy days and all the PT patients have been hurting.

We also had a booth at "Taste of Ouray" last night, and I pigged out. My weight is up which is a good thing.

I've been guilty of not sleeping, but I'm getting into it and taking my heavier meds at bedtime. Last night I slept 10 hours.

I owe some friends packages, cards, and other correspondence. Also, I'm sorry I haven't been on the discussion group for a long time.

Just up here in Colorado, enjoying the upcoming summer. We've had hummingbirds and snow together in some weeks recently. Biscuit (my cat) and I saw a Groesbeek at the feeder the other morning.

Sincerely, Caroline

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Greetings from Leadville, CO

Hello Everyone!

What a great day to be alive. Robert & I are in Leadville, doing the Mining History Association Annual Meeting, and having a great time. It's beautiful here in Leadville but cold. We have had a good show - sold books, mineral specimens, mining stock certificates, and mining artifacts. We've gotten to see many friends we haven't seen in a long time at this conference. We head home tomorrow, although we're going to drive around tomorrow and see some of the mines. We've also gotten to visit a wonderful indedpendent bookstore here, The Book Lode. Thanks to Carol, the owner for meeting us for breakfast and sharing experincess. If you're in Leadville, do look up this wonderful little bookstore.

Next weekend, we have a mining artifact show in Ouray. Never a dull moment! Lots of work to catch up on before our next visit with the oncologist on Friday, June 15th. Wish me luck that my blood cells will let me have chemo. Last Wednesday was one of those days when if I could have pulled the plug, I would have. I stayed up almost all night because we had so much work to do before we left town. But we went to the physical therapist, and Lee Ann helps so much. Thanks to Peggy Lindsay for massage which has been very helpful. Colleen Hollenbeck, my home health nurse, has really helped me get my meds straight.

C. W. McCall was on my radio show last Sunday, and he was just delightful! We did record the show. Also, he is really interested in classical musical music, and won a Cleo award for advertising. He did a lot of music before he ever did Convoy in the late 70's. The school hopes to get him back for a classical music show.

I have to scoot as it is getting late for us.

Thanks everyone for your interest and support.

Sincerely, Caroline

Sunday, June 03, 2007

CW McCall on my Radio Show Today

I think that I will have CW McCall, singer of Convoy and ex-mayor of Ouray, on my oldies radio show at 1:00 - 4:00 pm today. The station is KURA, 98.9, Ouray, Colorado. I don't know how to stream it, but here is the info:

I think you somehow copy this and it sets your computer up to play the show.

My white blood cells were too low to have FULFOX this week, but I had Avastin. So I had the little chemo and not the big one. We are scheduled to go back on June 15th to try again. My white blood cells were too high to have a round of shots to boost the white blood cells. It's been a very busy week for us in Ouray (we had a book signing at the book store yesterday, plus a million other activities going on in town), so I'm glad I had this week off from chemo.

I have to scoot. Suzie, my sister and maker of my dreams coming true, was here this week and she needs to leave, so I need to get going.

More Later! Thanks everyone.

Just up here in Colorado enjoying the beautiful scenery and sunshine!

Hope all is well with everyone out there.

Sincerely, Caroline

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Quickie From Caroline

Hello Everyone -

I have so much to tell everyone, but I've needed to catch up on bookkeeping, book orders, organizing new businesses, doing my film with my film class, training Robert on some bookkeeping, trying to rest, sometimes I don't have a choice - the chemo takes over.

With Suzie here next week, I hope we can post some pictures on the blog. I have so much to tell you about our trips.

A quick note to Vicki McNair and Liz Potts from Skyline High School. It was so good to see you and my dear friends Sarie and Elaine Dial. So much more to say and people to thank on our various pilgrimages.

I have to get to bed now! Oops, it's midnight. Gotta go do some mouthwash.

Just up here in Colorado, with hummingbirds and snow. The snow melted earlier this week, but I could still hear some hummingbirds. I think everyone mowed their yard this weekend after the snow melted. We got our lawnmower fixed, thanks to Elwood our employee.

Sincerely, Caroline

P.S. I think this cancer has messed with the wrong woman.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Caroline is doing ok ....

Howdy ya'll - that's Texan for hello you all. This is Suzie again. Caroline is doing fine - she's off her steroid high and therefore has less energy.

I'm so happy to have my "real" little sister back. I can hear it in her voice - it's truly Caroline! I'm wondering if any of you caretakers have experienced this with your loved one. She's finally sleeping, which means Robert is getting more "good" sleep. I kept thinking about the time one of my best friends was in the midst of a horendous tragedy. We were at the hospital and my friend could not sleep or eat. The nurse told us her getting sleep was more important than her eating. I was beginning to think Robert would get up one morning and find a little pile of ashes where Caroline had finally burned out.

Caroline is getting physical therapy on her leg and she believes it is really helping, although I don't believe she can yet really use that thigh muscle. Robert said she can bend the leg a tad. She continues to have mouth and throat sores and sometimes she can't even take pills.

This is really getting her down. Caroline, as I'm sure you've come to know, has always been extremely active. She was involved in so many things and she worked at the same time. After moving to Ouray and marrying Robert, she jumped into the community with both feet. To not have energy and to feel so sick is depressing. She questions whether it's all worth it. Apparently the affects of FOLFOX are cumulative so she'll probably feel even worse after the next treatment. I'm going over on Tuesday to spend some sister time and give Robert the time to do some rockhounding. Robert is great at finding beautiful crystals. I swear, he knows everything about Colorado minerals. Caroline and Robert were a good match - both being geologists and continuing their interest and enterprise in minerals.

I'll travel to Grand Junction with Robert and Caroline next Thursday for her doctor appointment. Hopefully all the tests will give the go ahead for FOLFOX chemo. She's coming to the end of this chemo regime and we're all extremely anxious for her to take a scan and see what the FOLFOX has accomplished. Caroline and Robert have a friend who has undergone this chemo regime for a different type of cancer. He's shared his experiences while undergoing FOLFOX which has been extremely helpful to Caroline. His sharing of experiences and his support has helped her get through this.

I'd better scoot - have a million things to do before I leave on Tuesday.

You go FOLFOX ..... kill those cancer cells!

Love to all,