In A Minute


Last week, I had one heckuva crazy day. Thursday was going along swimmingly, until it wasn’t. Driving home from a patient visit, I was overcome with an extraordinary, fully drenching and dizzying hot flash and nausea the likes of which I hadn’t encountered since my chemo-daze (pun not actually intended, but it works).

On the 101 Freeway, I thought: I’m going to have to f-bomb throw up. Where on EARTH is this going to happen (wondering Why wasn’t even on the radar)? I prayed with all my might to moooooove the traffic fast enough to get me onto an off-ramp. The Silver Lining was that I made the off-ramp; however, I barely got the car door open and didn’t even get my car into park before, well, you know.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the worst thrower-upper. First of all, I DESPISE it. When I have a stomach flu, I will lay in bed for days rather than toss my cookies.  I’m NOT one of those people who thinks that retching is cathartic, who feels “better” after. Secondly, I am so unattractive when I heave.  I moan, cry and laugh.  Yes, laugh.  That nervous, twitchy laughter.  Kind of like people sometimes do at funerals. Ever seen that?  I feel so sorry for those people, as I do for myself when I upchuck.

As I was doing a face plant in the dirt, I heard a car door behind me. I thought: WTF? Can’t I vomitus in peace?  The only thing worse than heaving is being watched by someone while I barf. The next thing I knew, I look up and it was the HOTY. Yes, the Husband Of The Year showed up at the precise moment when I needed him the most. Talk about the penultimate Silver Lining.

After what felt like 3 hours, but was really more like 15 minutes, I pulled myself together (with the help of the HOTY) and got myself home…to the couch. I was incredibly weak, parched, headachy and for the first time wondered WTF was going on with me. Food poisoning? Sinus infection? FBC? That’s the thing about having had FBC: when something mind (or rather stomach) blowing like this happens, thoughts inevitably go to: could it be back? is it possible?

The next day, my doctor sent me for blood tests to figure out the answer to that WTF question (though he’s way too polite to swear). When I asked the phlebotomist what tests were ordered she said: CBC (complete blood count), Chem Panel (test that gives important information about the status of your kidneys, blood sugar, and electrolyte and acid/base balance), and CA 27.29.

CA, I wondered. CA stands for cancer. Are we testing for f-bomb cancer?  Uh huh. That’s what it was. The antigen CA 27.29 is found in the blood of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. If CA 27.29 levels rise, it may be an indication of an early FBC recurrence.

In an minute, I was back at that place of: Do I or Don’t I Have FBC?

Fast forward (at a snail’s pace) to late that evening. My doctor called to tell me that the CA 27.29 test was all clear (MAJOR Silver Lining!!!!). He said that I probably had some big, bad virus that went through me like a mack truck.

This situation so vividly and clearly reminded me how life can change in just one minute. Literally, an instant. One minute we are healthy. The next minute we are not.

What an incredible opportunity and yet another wake up call for me to celebrate every moment of health, which was the Silver Lining of being a vomitus rex on the side of the freeway.


Leave a comment


  1. says

    Oh dear Hollye, I've got very behind in my reading but am so glad this experience is behind you. The importance of it, and the silver lining of course, is that we ARE grateful for every moment of health and that we are constantly PRESENT – because yes, it can all go down in a minute. Blessings to you and all, Frances

  2. says


    Another silver lining. If it helps – I was suffering with the exact same thing last weekend! Next time we do something at the same time let's check with each other first and make sure IT's FUN. I cycled very, early last Friday and got home around 10:00 am…then it started. First the nausea. For hours. Chiils. Shakes. Drenched in sweat. Barf. Repeat cycle. I was flat in bed for 48 hours and am still recovering. I also lost six pounds.

    I'm so glad you're all right. And better yet: that there was your husband, just when you needed him. That's beautiful:)


  3. Valérie says

    I am so happy you are doing fine. I red your post with so much emotion. It is so hard to think not of FBC when soething happens. I talked with my oncologist about this. We have to enjoy life without thinking about fbc everytime we feel not good and in the same time they need us to tell them what's happening in our body to be able to figure out if fbc is back or not. This is a very difficult thing to do. When to be worry and when not. I love life but I know now than my entire life and my family one can change in a minute. You are so wonderfull to read hollye, even the events are not always easy and happy you know are to turn it to a positive way. You are my silver lining everytime I read you. Thank you. Valerie

    • says

      Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful note, Valerie. That's the thing, isn't it? We think that any little thing is related to FBC. It's so tough. I agree with your oncologist that we need to enjoy life and practice doing this certainly helps!
      Thank you again!

  4. Shannon says

    Hollye, I'm so glad to hear that your test came back negative and that it was just a nasty bug. I love reading your blog and this post especially. It truly reminds me not to sweat the small stuff and appreciate everything that is so good in life.

  5. Isabel says

    Dear H,
    You are a truly gifted narrator. You made something not so funny and potentially very scary, hilarious. I am thrilled to hear you are well and healthy, as you should be.
    Besos de canela, anis y nuez.
    p.s.: I wrote you a little edoodle to yesterday, I was wondering if you had had a chance to read it.

    • says

      Thank you so very much, Isabel! I am so very appreciative of your kind words!
      I just responded to your email…sorry for my delay.
      Thank you, again!

  6. Kim C says

    Hi Hollye,
    I too am so happy to hear your test results were negative for FBC. Such a huge relief. Lovely to hear about a difficult moment made easier with your husband being there when you needed him most!
    I'm waiting for results from blood tests for low wbc count. I'm so grateful for our medical care, but testing and waiting for results is indead a difficult process.

  7. jp says

    A Moment of Levity

    Here I was this morning, reading your blog and being entertained by your narrative of the freeway vomitus, when BAM, I starting bawling with happiness that your CA27.29 was all clear. Tears of joy for your continuing health. You have become like a sister crusader to me, so know that I am cheering for you each and every day. I so understand your apprehension every time you get those blood tests.

    I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in June, 2011, and my recent CA-125 level is above the normal range. More residual disease was found in June of this year when I went in for a colostomy reversal, port removal and abdominal mesh put in for a huge surgical hernia. Instead I woke to find the port and colostomy appliance still in place. I just knew what that meant. The (middle of the) night nurse would tell me nothing. I decided to push the morphine button to ease my pain and slip back into a numbing sleep.

    I am still healing so any further treatment has been put on hold. I decided just today to not participate in a "trial" treatment because the risks are just too great and I'd have to travel four hours three days a week to receive the treatment. I pray that my oncologist finds the right treatment plan for me.

    Well, I feel better having vented my frustration even though where I next go on this journey, I'm not sure. Please keep me in your prayers and know that you are in mine as well. I am so happy to have stumbled onto your blog many months ago. You are one of my best support team members along with family and friends.

    • says

      Dear JP,
      Your note means the absolute world to me. Truly. I am deeply appreciative!
      What a courageous decision you have made about treatment. I admire your strength – so very much!
      I am sending my prayers and best wishes of support to you.
      Please stay in touch and let me know how you're doing!
      Take good care,

      • jp says

        Thank you Hollye. I will let you know what the plan of attack will be. I appreciate your support and prayers. I will go in for a contrast enema (just part of the deal) on the 27th to see if I'm good to go for the colostomy reversal, God willing.
        So happy that you're back on your clinical work, a Silver Lining indeed! Serving others is so rewarding! God bless.

  8. Shari Harris says

    I was so touched by your husband being there at that moment. What a "life synchronicity". I am so relieved for you that all ended well. I had a similar experience when traveling on the Paul Gauguin last monthnand got a dreaded message that my Mom died. I was violently ill, also hating to vomit. I assume my body was in such shock that I reacted this way. While everyone was enjoying the Maine lobster around the deck on Tahitian night I was in my room :(.

    • says

      Dear Shari,
      Thank you for your note.
      I'm so very, very sorry to hear about the death of your mom. I also assume that it was the shock. Our emotions have a very powerful influence on our bodies, don't they? Please take care of yourself as you grieve. Grief takes its own time, so patience is the key.
      Indeed, having the HOTY appear at exactly the moment that I needed him (and no one else in the world!) was a life synchronicity (and Silver Lining, I might add!).
      Take good care, Shari.