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U.S. Road trip – 2015

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Gratitude Tour: Road Trip U.S.A.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month

I decided to attend the Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference in Boston and thought it would be a great opportunity to see friends and family that supported me during my time of need, to thank them and show them how well I’m doing now. I’ve lived past my expiration date…twice… and currently enjoy the unattainable miracle of NED… No Evidence of Disease. For now, like everyone else with metastatic breast cancer, I live scan to scan. So I put together this monster road trip… 7000 miles, 22 stops, over 5 weeks. Thing is, there were a few long stretches where I didn’t know anyone. People started asking me to stop and say hi to friends of theirs that were struggling and so I put it out there to my breast cancer friends that I could stop by and give them a hug if they wanted…

“I have this searing memory of being hooked up to Carbo and Taxol, enduring radiation to three parts of my body at once, and thinking… if this is living, then I don’t want to live. And some other part of me (I’ll call her Hope), grabbed me by the lapels, shook me, and said… “Others have done it, you can do it.” And it got me through a crucial day. Sometimes that’s all we need… to know there can be a future that isn’t as bleak as the present moment.

I’m setting out tomorrow from Colorado on a 7000-mile road trip that will take me through the midwest to the conference in Boston and down the eastern seaboard, in to Asheville, and south to Florida, through New Orleans, Austin, and home. I will be stopping and staying with friends and family who have stood by me from afar and visiting some people who are currently struggling. It occurred to me to put it out there to my lovely new Facebook friends that if they or someone they know, that is on my loop, needs a hug and a shot of encouragement, I could stop by for a brief visit.”

I got dozens of responses! I think this might possibly be the best idea I have ever had! My tour of gratitude has turned into a way that I can give back for the miracle that I am living and to celebrate those that are currently entrenched in their struggle.

First stop – Boulder, Coloradojune fb
Visiting my first healing angel in Boulder… June visited me when I was going through hell in Seattle, has placed her loving, healing hands on me, and always sent so much love and light from afar.

LovemeltsMinneapolis
Stop two on my Tour of Gratitude… these lovely angels were with me at Burning Man when I lost the use of my legs and didn’t know what was wrong with me… that I was full of tumors that had split my sacroiliac joint apart. They packed me up and shipped me out of the grueling desert and came to see me when I was struggling for my life in Seattle. They constantly sent me healing love and light. The little one was then a bun in the oven and a reason for me to fight… I had to meet him! And what a precious soul he is!!!Marsha

 

 

My first stop leaving Minneapolis… Marsha ministers at her church and she made a beautiful present of a prayer shawl to me that the women in her church knit and infuse with love and prayers. I feel blessed!

 

WinonaWinona
So, I think this road trip and the idea to meet with some of the amazing women also dealing with cancer is possibly the best idea I’ve ever had. It was so great to meet Pam and her sister Val who is lovingly caring for her. Rock on, Winona babes!


“Best idea ever, thanks for stopping on your way through. Wonderful meeting Kaiulani oPamWinonan her Gratitude tour. I’m refueled and encouraged to share a hug with a brilliant shining soul sister ♡ Check out her blogs if any of you want to know her amazing story. I had never met Kai before until today, she is a giver and a liver. She posted she was taking a road trip, the Gratitude tour, and if anyone was on her route she would love to stop by and meet friends and give a hug. I was happy when she messaged me yesterday that she’d be passing through Winona today. Blessings and love to you Kai as you make your way east. Safe travels and love and light to you and all you meet on this journey. ♡ THANK YOU” – Pam

 

PamTamaraChicago
I’m so impressed by the cancer survivors I meet. Through it all, they remain positive. Pam and Tamara hadn’t known each other before, but when they both wanted to meet up with me as I passed through Chicago, we found a place in the middle and had a wonderful dinner. It was lovely meeting you both. Thank you.                                         “I can’t tell you how wonderful and inspiring it was to meet up with you and also Tamara. Your positivity, and loving spirit is so encouraging and brings hope. ♡♡♡” – Pam
“Thank you! for making a stop in Chicago and for spending the evening sharing your insights and energy. It was so good to meet you.. and to meet Pam too! Safe travels — may the wind be always at your back.” – Tamara

 

Detroit
I was honored to celebrate Cheryl’s last chemo with her and her loving hubby. Thank you, Jana, for introducing us! Cheryl

“Kai, I thought you would like to know that this story is touching so many lives!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for stopping in to share your love and story with me and my hubby too… Facebook brings people together in so many ways. I met Kai on FB through a mutual friend. Jana thought we would connect well. Kai is a true cancer warrior. 3 years clean, she had stage IV cancer thought her body including 9, yep 9, brain tumors. She is traveling across the nation, over 7,000 miles on a Gratitude road trip. And was going to be in Michigan. She came and brought love and light to me at my last chemo treatment today. And a story of HOPE. Thank you my new friend. What an experience!. There are no coincidences in life. Our God amazes me, every dayhe is the true meaning of the word AWESOME!!” – Cheryl

“This is one the LARGEST most BEAUTIFULLY happy blessings in my life to date! That my dear soul sister of many moons who I hold so dear to my heart Kaiulani Facciani,, has now held my dear soul sister warrior Essante gal friend Cheryl close during her struggle with cancer and was with her at the close of her chemo treatment… I love both of these beautiful women! I cannot hold back my emotion in tears of joy…to share and see that this magic is in our day to day of what can be life… I am lost for more words.  ♡♡♡ Love you both.” – Jana

ElizabethDetroit

I love the midwest! Elizabeth and Uncle Larry know how to take a licking and keep on ticking!

Kai, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for stopping by on your tour to share your story & love with us. I pray one day we get to meet again. Safe travels, my friend, you are amazing. – Elizabeth

 

 

 

TomKat

 

Ohio

Kathleen is fighting her cancer naturopathically… and winning! Fascinating story. I so enjoyed dinner with her and Tom, her amazing support system.

“What a treat meeting with this sweet woman last night… Kaiulani a wellness consultant, a survivor, and a wonderful person.” – Kathleen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evered

New York

And this lovely Kathleen is a mets sister who is so confident in her ability to heal, she is starting a retreat to nurture fellow metastatic BC battlers in her lovely new farmhouse in rural New York… what a huge heart this woman has.

“Kaiulani and I… a random visit from CO via everywhere. I feel as though my life has changed. I’ve realized that from cancer I’ve lost some friends, but the ones that turned up and came instead of turned around and left are in my life for a very important reason. You all know who you are.” – Kathleen

 

1 - 1Cape Cod
Coco is a two-time breast cancer survivor. I provided support for her from afar after being introduced by a mutual friend. When it hit the fan for me, she was there for me as one of my most ardent cheerleaders. I am so grateful to meet her in person after all these years of on-line friendship and support.

“Kai you are an AMAZING woman for helping so many other women with breast or metastatic breast cancer! I’m HONORED for your visit last week and for your loving support throughout my cancer ordeal ! Thank you SO much for sharing your process and strength with us all! Much love to you.” – Coco

 

Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference – DanaFarber Institute – Boston, MA

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Can I just say how amazing women with metastatic breast cancer are? And how soothing it is to spend time with people who face the same death sentence as me every day with such joy and hope and bravery. When you are in the same room with hundreds of them, the whole is definitely more than the sum of the parts. I am in awe of the indomitable spirit!

Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer is a terminal diagnosis. Some of us prefer to think of it as a chronic illness. Either way it’s no fun. But there’s always lemonade to be made…

 

 

The Snarling Wolf…

You don’t “beat” stage IV breast cancer. The most you can do is grab the snarling wolf by the throat and hold it at arm’s length, trying not to be intimidated by the fangs and the spittle and the intensity of its desire to rip you to pieces.

If you’re lucky, you temporarily tame it or it may tire itself out for awhile but you are always on your guard, knowing it will eventually awaken and attack again.

Right now, he is snoring softly at my feet. Be vewy, vewy qui-yet.

 

1 - 1 (2)Manchester

Cindy is an old friend who has lost many loved ones to cancer. She is the eye of the hurricane… always a center of calm love and support amidst the chaos that sometimes surrounds her. When I was going through treatment, she sent me so much love and support as well as the comfiest, most beautiful blanket to cuddle in. A walk in the woods and on the beach with her has been so wonderful. Frosting on the very beautiful cake that is my life.

 

 

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the Hamptons, New York

My dear friend Emma is a breast cancer survivor who started the Emma Jacobs Foundation (Taking Initiative to Survive) and helps scores of women who face the challenges that a breast cancer diagnosis poses. When I was first  diagnosed in 2007, she took me under her wing. She and Patrick, hosted me and supported me through my many visits to Houston and the roller coaster ride I endured. Now, they have a lovely home in the Hamptons and it was so great to experience their new life with them on my Gratitude Tour.

 

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1 - 1 (4)Manhattan

Four museums in one day! The Guggenheim, the Met, Natural History, and MOMA. Going to the Whitney tomorrow. Two Broadway shows. Oh, Manhattan you’ve made me deliciously exhausted! I’ve eaten Korean, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Italian, and Greek.

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It is impossible to not fall in love with mankind while visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Throughout the millennia, all over our world, artists have wrested such beauty from such pain… battles waged, lives torn, love lost. I am dwarfed 1 - 1 (7)by the grandeur and scope of their collective consciousness.

And it is impossible to not fall in love with our universe, our planet, and its non-human inhabitants while visiting the Museum of Natural History. I can only hope our burning desire to create overcomes our innate propensity to destroy.

Museums and Creativity

Visiting museums and looking at bodies of work by various artists always brings me back to times in my life when I was young and creative. My life lay before me as an infinite pattern of branches of potentiality. I was so excited at the fact that i could be anything i wanted to be and looking at others art always generated so many ideas for art of my own.

But life happened, as it does, and most, if not all, of those ideas remain unrequited. As I coast down the hill of middle age, the branches have thinned significantly and I am filled with a sweet sadness, ruing all that i did not achieve. As I consider my terminal diagnosis and the branches become downright sparse, it is tempting to wallow in defeatism. 

 

But I abhor negative, self-fulfilling prophecies and so I am grateful that my game has gone into overtime and I force myself to envision capillary-like branches filling in the map of my life ahead. Although my hand is partially paralyzed now, I am excited about a new project I have envisioned. It may never see the light of day, but just thinking of its potential makes me feel young and alive. In some way, I am becoming who I wanted to be when I grew up.

KainAndrea

 

Margate, New Jersey

TannehillsAndrea is one of my oldest and dearest friends. I have so much gratitude for her unwavering, indefatigable support from afar. I am also so grateful to have been able to spend time with her lovely, loving little family. Like all of us they have weathered challenging times and they have emerged so strong and bound together by so much love. I’m pretending to have bottled it and am taking it with me to sip from when I need a shot…

“Look who came for a visit… So grateful to to see my dear friend Kai on her “gratitude tour”!” – Andrea

 

The circle of life…

Sunrise on ferry, full moon still on watch.
Foggy wisps suspend over dappled Delaware fields.
Drying and dying, preparing for winters sleep.
Thermodynamics are busy at play…
Entropy dictates descent into decay. 
While life endures and cycles persist
to create order from chaos.
And every sunrise is a brand new day.

 

Raleigh, North Carolina1 - 1 (10)

Doris Ann is my shero. She taught me how to fight mets… with everything you’ve got! And don’t forget the lipstick, great hats, and a smile always on your face. It’s nearly 10 years since she was diagnosed Stage 4 and she’s back at the battle once again with a vengeance. Remember that prayer shawl that Marsha gave me in Minneapolis that the lovely women in her church knit and imbued with prayers? I was honored to present one to Doris Ann that they gave me for her. Isn’t she beautiful in it? So grateful that we’ve both made two circles around the sun since we met… in spite of the odds. Rock on, sister warrior queen!

dorisanngraphic

 

Kai, if I am your shero, then surely you must be my ultimate protégé! Smart, inquisitive women like you keep an open mind to new ideas…then research which ones may be worthy of consideration and run with them! I am grateful that you are not only such a woman, but also that you have far outrun whatever influence I may have had on you initially when we first met. Now you have (rightfully ) earned your own place as a force to be reckoned with, respected, and admired as an uber example and mentor to so many devoted followers. 
Rock on, Rapper Kai! And thanks again for stopping to visit this afternoon (and presenting me with the beautiful prayer shawl from the ladies in Edina, Minnesota)! 
As you continue your journey back home to Colorado, give my regards to one of my favorite NC destinations (Asheville). — and keep on adding new branches each day to your Tree of Life! Mmmmwaa!” – Doris Ann

 

2SariyaMe 1SariyaMePV

 

Asheville, North Carolina
Sariya Jade and I first met on the beach in Puerta Vallarta in a magical moment of synchronicity that also brought me June Turnbull (remember the first stop on the Gratitude Tour in Boulder?). The three of us were attending an energetic healing conference and I have been grateful for their healing energies ever since.

I finally got to see Sariya again after 7 years! And what a cool place Asheville is. So here we are… Tan and young in Puerto Vallarta, older and whiter in Asheville, and with two new marvelous cancer sister survivor friends. Both Cynthia and MaryAnne are taking an integrative holistic approach to maintaining wellness. I am honored again in the presence of such strength.

 

3SariyaCynthiaMe 4SariyaMariAnneMe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tybee Island, Georgia

Walking the beach this morning, I marveled at the seabirds serenely sunning themselves. I struggled with the temptation to run screaming into their midst to feel the frantic flurry of their fright-filled flight swirl around me. Instead, I stood nearby absorbing the contentment of their full bellies and the fellowship of feathered family. I marveled at the sage and savvy woman I had become. And then silly and sassy emerged, the little girl took over my being, and all hell broke loose. Da woman may never come back. Hahahaa….

 

 

Vera Paas, Seattle Vera

My dear friend and fellow sister warrior, Vera Paas, is transitioning to her next assignment in these days. Please send a kiss on the wind to tickle her with love as she moves on. I love you, Vera.

Update: She’s gone… ; (

I stand alone, surrounded by shadowy figures. Like clay soldiers from an ancient Chinese army, they are silent symbols of fallen warriors. Every time I turn around, there are more. Diagnosed after me with prognoses better than mine, they have left me behind. I fight back tears and try not to give in to suffocating feelings of doom and despair. May they find as much joy and love in their next assignment as they brought to this one. Because every one of them deserves, perhaps more than I, to be breathing here beside me, and they are not… Because of the brave battles that they waged… Because I don’t truly understand why I’m still standing… I will battle on. For them… And for all of my sweet fellow warriors who know exactly what I am feeling. As I sit here listening to Robert Earl Keen, I am reminded that the road goes on forever, and the party never ends. Party on, Vera…

 

Nancy n me

 

Florida Panhandle
Like seemingly everyone, Nancy and Warren have loved ones battling cancer. One of my oldest and dearest friends, Nancy actively cheered me on from afar. Visiting them in their new home near the beach, I finally got to take a dip in the ocean. It was so…. invigorating!! And nothing beats a day on the boat! I am grateful for so much. : )

NancyWarrennI

Nancys beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KaiBourbonKaiChubby

 

 

The Big Easy

I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to meet up with my three breast cancer sisters from New Orleans but I did manage to have me some fun… Zydeco two-stepping to Chubby Carrier at the Rock-n-bowl was a highlight. I asked him if he’d play our street dance next spring and he said yeah! So let’s see if we can make it happen. : )

 

austinsiegelesaustincindy

 

Austin, Texas
I love it when people I love meet and end up loving each other! The Gratitude Tour is winding down with a bang in Austin, where so many different friends from different chapters in my life currently live. They all sent me so much love  that Austin became it’s own shining light through my dark nights. Cindy worked with me in the computer business 25 years ago, Lindsey is my daughter from another mother, and the Siegele family is a constant love generator. I am truly blessed.

austinlindsayaustinrooftop
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Enchanted Rock, Texas1 - 0
Hiked to the top with old friends and a new one. Considering I was told not to expect to walk again (let alone live this long), I consider this a huge victory. I am so very grateful. It is very beautiful up there. What a great last stop before heading home and finishing my 7500-mile loop! I’m the horse heading for the barn now. : )

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home snow

 

Home

After 7500 miles… Home! I drove all night to miss the storm and woke up to this. Hard to believe I was bodysurfing in the ocean last week. 😜 What an amazing trip, this Gratitude Tour…full of so much love! People say that there is nothing about cancer that can be considered a gift and I see their point. But the way I look at it is that it brought all of you into my life and as for those that knew and loved me before… It made me realize just how much. And for that, I am truly grateful! Love and light and strength to all!

 

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  1. Bette

    Kai I just finished reading about your Gratitude Tour. I enjoyed it so much. I could actually feel like I was traveling with you…of course in my heart you are always with me. You are a joy, and an inspiration to all you meet.

    Love you dearly, Many hugs.

    Bette

  2. Gary Schell

    Indisputably , Kai, you have a lot of friends. They helped pull you through your terrible ordeal. Good on them!!

  3. Carol Rugg

    Kai. Just finished reading your blog on the fabulous healing tour you have taken!! You are so brave..Keep on living til I die!! Love and hugs to you.

  4. Linda

    Kai,
    I am so thrilled to read about your trip. I remember when you were so sick a few years ago and to see you now is such a blessing. I think your positive and loving attitude has brought you to this place. Also your bull-dogged determination. You have encouraged and given hope to so many, and they in turn have fed your soul. My heart is glad to see you well and happy. I love you little sister.

  5. Emily

    What an amazing journey and amazing journeyer!
    Love you much,
    Emily

  6. Angela R. Pashayan

    My Dearest Kai,

    What a Trip! So many who are diagnosed with perfect health do not live as fully as you. You have blessed so many with simply Who You Are…on this gratitude tour as well as right here at home in Telluride. As a Reader, I’ve seen your hands and it is clear that you should be gone….yet the universe and God have you walking this great earth for a higher purpose that touches the heart of others and your presence Changes Lives! You go girl! I pray that you are still here 20yrs from now saying “na-na na-na-na” to the disease that thought it could take you according to its timeline. And so it is!!!

  7. Cindy Ross

    You made it!!!!! I was happily one of your stop along the way. You’ve MORE than bounced back–you are leaving the rest of us in the rear view mirror as your energizer bunny self continues to embrace LIFE.
    Hugs and Love, Cindy

  8. Coco Larrain

    What a wonderful, important journey you’ve made, Kai, and I’m so blessed to have been one on your route! Such fun to read this !
    Congratulations and much love to you!

  9. alicia

    great pictures
    wonderful voyage!
    love love love

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