"It started out to be a very busy summer. I was building a garden program at a women’s shelter and interning at the Cancer Support Center for a TRE Drop-In group, plus formulating multiple other summer vacation projects. But something was off. I was having trouble breathing, walking, a constant pain that I thought originated in my back. On July 7, a long day in urgent care landed me an ultrasound that found a mass on my liver. A 14 cm mass continued to expand to 18.5 cm until Dr. Leonardi removed it with half my liver and gallbladder 3 weeks later. Then there were just the dark days of recovering from major abdominal surgery and trying to get back into the classroom before too much time elapsed. September 14 came as a shock, though I suppose deep in the back of my mind I knew the pathology was taking too long and had been sent to Kaiser Regional Lab and then finally the Mayo Clinic. Now it is Thanksgiving and it’s spread to my spine, my pelvis and small indolent nodules in my lung. I’ve instantly become part of a community of people with a rare vascular soft tissue cancer called Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma, a name I can barely pronounce on a good day. It is an unpredictable cancer. It can be slow spreading or shift into aggressive stages overnight. It doesn’t respond to typical cancer protocols like chemo. I have it in tissue, muscle, bones and organs and I can’t predict my future. I’m undergoing radiation on my spine and next my pelvis and then I will find a new home at UCLA in January with an oncologist that specializes in sarcomas and research. It’s just part of my human journey now. Now my life is reflected with such kindness from so many people that pool their energies or good thoughts my way and I am learning to be humble in new ways. So with an abundance of gratitude and love, I move forward…."
Paula is our friend. She is a teacher who focuses her life on helping other people, especially kids and plants. She has an amazing cynical wit that can knock you over. She is a whole and complex person with a lot of wild ideas. She is beloved person. She has a rare cancer and needs money for treatment and other kinds of help.
Paula sees cancer as a transformative part of her life journey and is facing it with rare courage and sense of humor. She is in pain, but, as usual, she doesn't want anyone else to feel it. She spends her life giving to others and now we want to give to her to make this journey as true and fine as it can possibly be.
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