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Sunday, June 29, 2014

8 Years Since Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Diagnosis, and Still Going Strong

Some days, it doesn't seem that long. Other days, the day I received the diagnosis from my surgeon seems an eternity away. My heart sends thanks to all you who have supported me on this path I did not ask for, and offer my support to others that walk the path beside me. 

I am grateful for all opportunities that I once thought would have been taken from me: seeing the love in my husband's eyes when I catch him looking at me; witnessing my daughter's graduation from college; watching my son grow into the great man I knew he would be; following my mom's and brother's  adventures of moving into new homes; sharing joy with my friends as they welcome their grandkids; cheering my colleagues on as they retire and begin their lives over again;  and in my role as medical librarian, supporting those researching cancer as well as other diseases and conditions at the medical center.

Someone asked me recently what the hardest part has been lately, since I am not currently undergoing active treatment. My answer doesn't have much to do with having cancer - I think it is pretty much shared by all humans: the hardest part of living is having friends and loved ones die. 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Cheeky - an open letter of gratitude to the CEO of Toyota Motors

(Posted here since I have not yet been able to locate a direct address for Mr. Toyoda.)

As a member of a long-time Toyota owning family, I want to thank you and your expert professionals on creating the wonderful car that was in our family until an accident took her from us on May 22, 2014. Even though the loss of the car was traumatic, all of the Toyota professionals we came in contact with reminded us why we owned Toyota cars in the first place: the people and the machinery are the highest quality all around!

In 2008, after living through head & neck radiation and two surgeries to treat cancer, my husband joined me in celebrating life by buying a 2008 5.0 Release Series Scion xB from Dennis Gormley at the Performance Toyota/Scion ( of Lincoln, Nebraska. We named her Cheeky, to go along with my nickname of the Cheeky Librarian. The Scion xB fit our family perfectly - it came with a factory-installed sun roof, it came with a manual transmission, and the tall men in my family could easily sit in the front and back with no space problem. No matter how bad a day was, I knew I could walk out of work or home and have a big smile when I saw Cheeky parked, ready and waiting for adventures. She was her own parade. I wrote about some of the adventures over the years on my blog (, and posted photos on my Flickr account ( a Scion is never boring - it's the most fun a person can have in traffic. 

My husband and I decided on a driving trip to celebrate our 30th anniversary, and headed for the Pacific coast. We drove through Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California to reach Pacific Coast Highway 1. For 6 days, we drove up and down the coast between Cambria and Marina, playing in the surf and taking lots of photos of ourselves and yes, the car. On 7th day, we forced ourselves away from the beautiful coast to begin the trip back to Omaha, driving through California and Nevada for the first leg of the trip. East of Reno, traffic was stopped due to something in the highway. As we sat stopped, waiting for traffic to clear, we heard the sound of hard-braking tires. My husband said, 'Hang on!', and then the crash. Someone had driven on the shoulder around the stopped traffic, couldn't stop, pulled their parking brake which put them in a spin at 50mph and right up against Cheeky's rear bumper. To say there was a lot of damage is an understatement, but neither my husband nor myself had injuries - your safety engineers earned every bit of their wages. That car did exactly what it was designed to do - absorb the impact and keep those in the passenger compartment as safe as possible.

We had the car towed to the Reno Toyota dealership for evaluation. A man there told us to take it to the Dolan Lexus Autogroup (, since that was where body work was done. It was late evening (around 7:30pm) when the tow truck dropped us and Cheeky off in the lot. Ginger Kraus, salesperson for Dolan Lexus was getting off work, but insisted on taking my husband and me (and all of the contents of Cheeky, since the windows were broken out) to a motel so we could rest and recover. We saw Reagan Riveria, the Service Manager,  the next day and learned that there would be no fixing Cheeky - the damages were just too extensive. We drove away in a rental car, discussing our options all the way back home (which was still 1450 miles away). 

We have loved the Toyota brand since my husband bought a Toyota Starlet in 1981 (that car saw over 300,000 miles on it before the floor gave way - the engine was still purring along). We even owned an American-specs Toyota Corolla station wagon while stationed in Germany in 1987. The 2008 Scion xB, while aimed at demographics younger than our age group, fit all of our wishes and made us feel like kids again. We knew we wanted another one, so I contacted Justin Polland of Performance Toyota of La Vista ( to find out what the 10.0 Release Series would be for 2014. Justin had to give me the bad news that the 10.0 Release doesn't have a sun roof nor does it come with a manual transmission. Despite those disappointments, we ordered a regular blue Scion xB (with manual transmission, but no sun roof), and expect to get it in July. We needed a car right away, so Justin was able to locate a 2014 Yaris LE, which we bought and are happily driving until we get the Scion xB to play with. The new xB won't be Cheeky - that was a once-in-a-lifetime car for me. But I look forward to getting the new regular Scion xB. Health professionals say that a cancer patient's state of mind is as important as medicine when it comes to healing. As an 8 year cancer survivor (and now major highway accident survivor, too!), I want to thank you and your wonderful Toyota professionals on putting me in a great state of mind daily since February 2008. 
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