This is the face of a cancer survivor

IMG_0431Lately, I’ve been inundated with fund-raising efforts for cancer organizations. I just say, no.

I know it makes me look uncaring. Like many of you, I have lost a loved one to cancer. When I was taking care of him, no organization helped me with his care or the bills.

No organization was there when I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer.

So here are the reasons why I won’t give to cancer non-profit organizations:

  1. I am on a fixed income. I can barely pay my own bills plus medical bills. The medical bills include hospital, surgery, anesthesiologist, and surgeon. It includes the endocrinologist who keeps my thyroid hormones level so I don’t get cancer again.
  2. I have other conditions that require doctors’ care. I won’t go into them here. But if you want to read about Wegener’s Granulomatosis, then read my book “In the Shadow of Death: Reflections from a Wegener’s Granulomatosis patient.”
  3. I like to eat.

But the main reason I won’t donate to these charities is because so many of them have high administrative costs and very little of the money goes to research. Some of them have been charged with fraud. 

American Cancer Society may be one of the better ones, but it still uses 59.2 percent on its services and programs (reported by Charity Navigator.)

I used to feel the pressure to give. I used to want to help others and was all for an organization that would spend our donated dollars on research. I am older now and wiser.

Maybe one day I will hit the lottery or jackpot, and then I can start my own non-profit organization that focuses only on research of rare autoimmune diseases and cancer. Then maybe I could save someone else’s husband who has rapidly progressive cancer.

It’s a nice pipe dream.



Tuesday Snippet – Shira (working title)

So without further ado, here is a snippet of the revisions I’ve been doing for Shira. I’ve changed the name to Hero of Corsindor.

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2The messenger wore a velvet cut-back frock with single-breasted buttons fasted on the chest. Underneath the coat, he wore white lace frills under the a black silk waistcoat. His breeches were a stylish black velvet and he wore silk stockings to the knee. His black patent leather shoes had wide steel buckles. He wasn’t wearing the customary white gloves. He was in court dress.

When she heard his footsteps, the new Queen turned from the window overlooking the busy courtyard and beyond into the city. The servants and merchants looked like little ants too busy to look up into the sky.

The messenger stopped to admire the Queen. She wore a crimson dress that draped her tall thin frame. It emphasized her small chest and then fell straight down in waves. Her hair, a dark chestnut color, was piled artfully on her head. Silver and diamond pins sparkled in her hair. Any man, except the current king, would love to pull those pins from her hair and comb her hair with his hands.

The slight smell of lavender flowers followed her as she gracefully swayed. The messenger stopped a few feet from her and bent his head.

“Your Majesty,” he said. He bowed to her.

She gestured to two seats on the other side of the opulent room. How she could walk graceful as a bird on the plush rugs was a mystery. She sat down and then he sank in the soft chair.

“So?” she asked.

“The nurse is dead. He smiled at her, showing white sharp teeth.

There was a slight shudder in her shoulders and then she squared them.

“And, the baby?” she asked.

“Bad news, your majesty.” There was a hint of irony in the man’s voice. “She had already hid the baby before we found her.”

The queen’s voice hardened from a soft high voice to something lower and more sinister.

“Find him. Kill him.”

The messenger bowed his head in agreement. He stood and bowed again, then walked out of the room. His steps were firm and confident.

What the queen didn’t see as the messenger turned the corner and walked down the corridor was that his eyes turned a dark crimson. When he reached the shadows that gathered and pooled around the next corner, he disappeared into them.

Monday, monday

blue clear close up colors

Photo by Anthony on

One of my favorite childhood stories was The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. I was impressed that a creature of the sea would accept such pain to love another and in the end he didn’t chose her. If you want to read a story that is heart-wrenching, sad, and cathartic, you should read the original story and not watch the sanitized version by Disney.

On my desk is a tiny statue of the “Little Mermaid.” I found it on my trip to Denmark a few years ago. I was on a tour bus and one of the places we went to was the Langelinje Pier in Coopenhagen to see the mermaid statue. When I looked down at the statue and saw the waves lick her feet, it made the story more real to me.

It is one of those fairy tales that settles into the heart.

I lost my prince to death on September 19, 2014. In the story the mermaid didn’t have a soul so she drifted in the aether with other spirits. In my heart I have drifted. Every year I go farther away from the pain. Every year I remember his irrepressible spirit.

It has taken me fifty years to understand the pain in the story. But even though the story is disturbing, there is a nugget of hope in the last words:

“After three hundred years, thus shall we float into the kingdom of heaven,” said she. “And we may even get there sooner,” whispered one of her companions.

So even in love and even in pain– there is always hope.

Sorry and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Happy Father’s Day

According To Hoyt


*Sorry guys.  I’m actually on the mend.  At least today, for the first time in three weeks, I woke up with a clear head.  But the overdue short story is still not finished, the house looks like Pompeii after the volcano, and I am trying to do three things at once, so I forgot this.  I have a couple of books to promo, but they’ll get done next week.  I just can’t do the finicky work right now. I’ll add them next week.  For now, here’s the vignette, and I’ll be back tomorrow – SAH*

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we…

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Saturday Reviews

Since I am reading a lot lately, and decided to make Saturday a book review day. When I decide to review books, I get this flashback to second grade, which I almost failed, because I hated doing book reports. So that I wouldn’t fail, I spent the first week of my summer writing ten book reports. Yep, I only had to do ten book reports to pass the class. So that is how you can have a high IQ and still be almost held back.

Why didn’t I complete those book reports during the school year? That year I was reading the Oz series and other books that were on a high school level. I thought book reports were stupid so I refused to write them. I did write a list of books that I had read. When the teacher told me that I was lying, my need to buck authority was born.

She changed her tune when she finally got the book reports.

Anyway, enough about me and my book report phobia. This will be a book review, which is an entirely different beast.
dog with bone
I started reading “Dog with a Bone” a week ago, while I had the stomach virus. I was on my side with my kindle in my hands. I was looking for a good escape from the toilet god experience. If you have ever been sick, you know exactly what I mean.

It started out “burnt ozone tickled my nose” and I was hooked. The story is about Thierry a half-breed fairy who has magical powers derived from the runes on her hands. They never describe the runes. Sorry Norse enthusiasts so I am not sure if the cover is false advertising or not.

Her job is to hunt down and capture dangerous Fae who are slipping into the human world. At the same time she must keep her identity secret from the humans.

This book was a well-written wild ride. In this first book she is discovering her powers and her ancestry while trying to capture some dangerous creatures.

What was best about this book and the entire “Black Dog” series is that I escaped from my pain and sickness for a while. I’d say its worth the few hours of sitting in one place.

Be careful what you wish for

woman lying on white sand beach

Photo by Riccardo Bresciani on

When I was very young, my dad and I would sit on the grass and watch the stars. As the first star shone, he taught me to say:

“Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may
I wish I might
Have the wish
I wish tonight.”

A child’s wish is very powerful.

When I was only six, I made a list of the things I wanted to do when I was an adult. On my list were two really important things. 1) I wanted to go to college. No one in my family had been to college. I don’t know what I wanted to learn there, but I had this burning need for knowledge.

My second wish was that I would travel. I wanted to see the world. I had at least one destination in mind–Japan. As I became a pre-teen I put those dreams on hold. I already knew that I had a higher intelligence than most of my peers. I was also the youngest in all of my classes.

Still my parents decided to leave me bored and unhappy. In second grade I was so bored, I read the entire reading list in one week. Then I started to bring books to school to read. I would give part of my brain to the teacher. If I already knew the subject, I wouldn’t listen until I had to take a test. I skated through school this way, making As and Bs.

When I reached the ripe age of thirteen, my parents decided to home school us. At that time my actual learning stopped and I was expected to teach my siblings basic math and reading. My parents had my life mapped out for me. I would work, get an educational degree, and teach children. I was so good at it. I would be married and have my own children then.

When I reached my early twenties and found that I wasn’t going to accomplish either of my dreams, I think I hit bottom. My parents wants for me contradicted my wants for me. I could follow them or I could break free.

I decided to break free. I joined the US Navy and became an electronics tech. I met my husband there, then when I left the Navy I acquired a degree in English Literature. I was 42 when I managed to accomplish that goal. In the Navy and afterward, I traveled to Japan, Panama, and Germany. I even spent a couple of years in South Africa.

Wishes are powerful things. What I didn’t know was that to gain what I wanted, I did sacrifice stability. My life up to now has been constant change. Sometimes I wonder if I would had been ill if I had taken that other path. But I know, deep down inside, that if I had caved, I would be a bitter unhappy woman and empty of experiences.

So wish– and be careful what you wish for– because you might get it.

Here comes the sun

agriculture barley field beautiful close up

Photo by Pixabay on

Yesterday the temperature neared 108 degrees. The dry breeze sucked up all the moisture from my body and then blow-dried my hair.

The news anchors reported that the temperature would drop to the 90s in the next few days. The relief from heat would be more heat.

My blonde hair glittered as the rays bounced off of it. I have to admit that I have always loved summer until I came to this place where heat bounced off the asphalt, turning the city into a brick oven. Even the taupe and brown painted apartments can’t push away the heat without the air conditioning going on constantly.

I had braved the heat to spend lunch with my nephew. Family and blood is the only reason I need to walk out into the crushing heat. I listen to my nephew talk about work, family, and social life. I know he is missing the mountain forests, cold clear streams, and throwing his line into the water as he listens to the sounds around him.

I used to love the mountains. My family would pack seven children into a small car with bread, mayo, tuna, and crackers. My father brought his fly fishing rods and bait. When we were freed from the confines of the car, we would run down the small path next to the stream. We would dig for worms and look for the big fat trout that sunned next to a huge rock. Mom would give us a hook and fishing line. We would try to trick the fish into eating the bait.

The fish was smarter than us because we never caught him. We would lie on the rock and sun ourselves and fall asleep. When dusk began to settle on us we would wake to our mother calling us to come back so we could drive home.

It was the only freedom I remembered then. The next day I would be in charge of diapers, food, canning, and cleaning.

So I listen to my nephew and remember what it felt like to work so hard and see nothing for it. I tell him to take some time off and go back to the mountains.