Knife throwers and fire eaters


Wow! It was really so wonderful to get to spend time with Dr. Dan today. He is an amazing man and truly had a great deal of insight. I was a bit nervous in the beginning. But as it went on I felt more at ease. If you missed it and want to listen HERE is the link. From here you can podcast today’s show. I did my best to get the information about IBC out there. Some people commented on the idea of strength and bravery. I just hope that everyone understands that is really hard to digest those concepts when you are just doing your best to live your life. I hope NONE of you are ever faced with this. Cancer sucks! Chemo sucks! But you still have to LIVE.

And as I expected some people felt very strongly that nutrition not genes are the reason I have cancer. Well you are certainly entitled to that opinion. FYI we were vegan for like 12 years! And I still got cancer. I know a lot of vegans and macrobiotics who get cancer. And genes are not effected by environment. If I am wrong about this feel free to comment. I ate a lot of antioxidant food. And enjoyed some junk food too…not fast food…not frozen food. Anyway, I am tired of this argument. And I think homeopathy is great. I have used it a lot with my children. I used it in my pregnancies as well. But again I feel certain that it will not effectively remove cancer from my BONES! And again you all can do whatever you want if God forbid you are faced with this decision. I am choosing to use the technology that is in use now. In fact my cancer is hormone positive. So the main source of attack is withdrawal of the hormones that “fuel” my cancer. The chemo then further attacks the cancer cell. So unless you really believe that arnica and/or flaxseed could successfully shut down my ovaries and kill my cancer I think we should just let it go.

If you are new to my blog go back and read anything …comment..whatever. There are great pictures that my dear friend Jon O has taken of our family. It is hard to let all of you into my life. It is hard to be honest knowing it will be scrutinized by so many. I am getting over the weirdness of it all. The new “normal”. In the end if you get anything out of it I am happy. Also please know that if you feel compelled to help our family in any way let me know. If you feel moved to get our pink nautical star tattoo please call Kelly, my husband, at Body Graphics Arch Street or his cell to schedule an appointment. Also our dear friend Shayna is doing Susan G. Komen 3 day breast cancer walk in my honor. All donations support cancer research. Here is the link for her donation page We appreciate all your love, prayers, and support of all kinds. Our family is truly blessed by the kindness of so many.

When I think about the blog my deepest hope is to get the information about IBC out there. I do not want anyone to have to suffer or wait with the symptoms of IBC. And I want people who are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of cancer to gain some understanding. And lastly, I really want my loved ones to know how I am doing when they do not get to see me. I hope you get what you are looking for..thanks for visiting.

Love, Andrea

16 Responses to “Knife throwers and fire eaters”

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    leah says:

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    hey Andrea, first of all i love you!
    second, fuck all those people who blame you or your diet for your cancer!
    you were born a women and that is the reason for the type of cancer you have, you can not control your hormones, you did the right things, you had 6 pregnancies, you breast fed all your children, these are things that are supposed to help prevent breast cancer. basically you got it because you got it, shit happens and you are not to blame for it. just say the word and i will put anyone who is giving you shit in their place!
    you are a good strong person. i will pray for you to get into that study in California. among other prayers for you. anything you need just ask, i have your back!

  2. Cindy Del Vecchio says:

    You were awesome today!! I was proud to say you are my friend!

  3. sara says:

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    I listened to the program on my lunch hour and could not wait to get home to see your blog. You ARE an amazing woman and your attitude is contagious. I hope and pray you have more well days ahead and thank you for making me realize NOW is the time to enjoy my family and friends and appreciate every moment.


  4. Lara Lahr says:

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    I am new to your blog. I spoke with your son last night at circle. I met you once a few years back at your kids show for school of rock. Anyways, I admire you as a mom and as a fighter. My prayers are with you. Thank you for allowing others to share in the struggle with you. PEACE.

  5. abigail says:

    Hi there. I heard you on NPR today, and I just wanted to thank you. My mother died a year ago after a three-year struggle with Stage IV lung cancer (and no, she never smoked a single cigarette in her life… *and* she was an exercize and health-food nut), and listening I kept thinking a) how she would have loved the show, and b) that I wish she had been able to find the kind of peace with it that you seem to have. I think that your peace and acceptance must be a huge gift to your children.

  6. John Dugan says:

    Hello Andrea,
    I listened to you on Dr. Dan today,your voice,strenghth and personality came through the airwaves.Your interview was brave,humorous and forthright.I’ve been thinking all day about the show,and what you had to say about life and our time here.
    You are in my prayers

  7. Barb says:

    Hi Andrea – I’ve been reading your blog since the first time you spoke to Dr. Dan on his show. In a previous post you mentioned something about chemo caps. I have made them for two friends who have gone through chemo. They really like the style. Let me know if you would like some.

  8. maryellen Nerz-Stormes says:

    I am writing after hearing you on Dr. Dan Gottlieb (someone I greatly admire and this is what I told him.

    Dear Dr. Gottlieb,

    While you were speaking with Andrea Collins Smith, I was getting an MRI done of my entire spine and sacroiliac joints. I wanted to jump out of the MRI a couple times and call.

    First, I feel great empathy for her and I certainly know how she feels since I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at a relatively young age, with young children and so forth. I have been battling the disease for six years.

    One thing I really had big problems with was your and her characterization of the disease as terminal. I know I thought that way in the beginning, but while you and she were saying this, I kept saying, “What is terninal?” “We are all terminal” The one thing I know is that no doctor can tell you when or how you are going to die no matter how bad your circumstances. I had a fifteen percent chance of surviving five years. Something ridiculous like that.

    What you were spot on about in my opinion is the reason people do what they do to cancer patients. They are terribly afraid of the disease. It is why they look at you weird, why they don’t support you, why they tell you you are fine, you don’t care what people say, you are strong. They put the attributes on you so they don’t have to deal with what they are afraid of. And, you are right on that it is alienating. I feel I am constantly alienated by those around me. My own sister who is one of my best supports started saying things like this to me the other day.
    They don’t see me crying at the end of a long day when I am worn down from the stares.

    The other thing is people blame you for your cancer. They tell you what you should have eaten, what you should be doing, etc.

    They never say hurray you are doing the right thing. Never. Like you said, I believe it is because they are afraid. They want to come up with the magic formula to keep themselves from your situation. It is true. Even my massage therapist who is my friend makes comments indicating it is my fault.

    Anyway, the following is an essay I wrote on the event of six years of survival. It is from this I believe from NPR.

    I will tell Mrs. Smith something as I told Mrs. Edwards, you have to be a warrior to survive. It is about the medicine and the medicine being administered properly.

    Sincerely, Maryellen Nerz-Stormes

    The following is my this I believe essay

    Contributor: Maryellen
    Location: Strafford, PA
    Country: United States of America
    Series: Contemporary

    I believe in God. I suppose I always believed in God, but this belief became crushed and recemented many times as I have battled for my life over and over against metastatic breast cancer for the past six years.

    I believe in God not because I want salvation or because it is the only rational conclusion or because I think I should or because I was taught to believe in God from an early age. I am not specifically looking for a cure or redemption. I don’t want anything from God. Actually, I do want something. In my human, frail, cancer state I feel constantly abandonded. Like everyone else, I want a shoulder to lay my head on. I want to be loved.

    In the darkest moments, God made his (or her) presense known. Whether it was in the form of a good person coming from nowhere(as when my doctor literally came outside to get me when unbeknownst to him I had quit being treated, saving my life) or a clear revelatory thought, it was God. Increasingly, in my suffering, I knew this God was a God of love, peace and truth.

    People say they believe in miracles, but maybe they are partially supersticious. They say to me that I should say a prayer a certain number of times, in a certain way and I will be cured. They give me bottles of holy water and oils. They mean well, but often I wondered why if I asked God so many times with great sincerely and fervor to cure me why it had not happened. I wondered why God needed certain formats to communicate and could not see the purity of a suffering person’s soul. I once wondered why wouldn’t God cure me right now in an elevator (I happened to be in an elevator at the time when I submitted the challenge to God and a person with me).

    Gradually as I suffered for so long, I realized that there is a miracle. The miracle is called our brain and the real miracle is if we use our brain to the maximum of our ability. I am an organic chemistry teacher and often I turn to my students and say (because I am thinking it), ”You know, you are just a collection of molecules.” I call this an atheistic moment. Because I will wonder in the moment how a collection of molecules believe in God. As a scientist, I know I am just a collection of molecules. But, what a glorious collection of molecules!!!!! I will say to my students, think about the level of molecular communication required to have all the reactions occur correctly in this giant reaction vessel we call our bodies.

    So, I also believe in science. I believe that with a great knowledge of chemistry and biology, I can better control my disease and survive longer and so far I have.

    I know a woman who believes that she can hold her hands over me and she can transfer energy to my body and I will be cured. I know someone who believes there is energy derived from crystals. These people do not seem to believe in God.

    Recently, I experienced the precise application of gamma radiation to a brain tumor that had regrown in my cerebellum. The tumor shrank significantly and the fluid building up in my brain receded. It was pure science. The woman I know said, ”It worked because I believed in it.” This is how people tend to talk in regard to cancer therapy. It is all the ancillary treatments that do the trick, but the bottom line is, chemotherapy and gamma radiation kill cancer cells. Or as I said to her, ”I believe in it because it works.”

    God gave us our brains so we should use them. Thank God for the love and peace and truth possible from these giant, complex collections of molecules.

    This essay is copyrighted material; no reproduction or excerpting is permitted without written consent. Unless otherwise noted, this essay is reprinted just as it was submitted by the writer.

  9. maryellen Nerz-Stormes says:

    One more thing. I am a chemist. The nutritional stuff for the most part is not true. If the pH of your blood could be so easily manipulated eating a tomatoe, then the proteins in your body would not be stable.

    Your body is a buffer system. When food goes into your body it goes into an acid vat where it is broken down. When the fragmented molecules get to your blood stream they are in a buffer system which only varies over a narrow range.

    Is it better to eat healthy – definitely, but I doubt your cancer cells care what you eat for the most part. I think the nutritional stuff is ancillary, the science and medicine is primary.

    You did not cause your cancer and I doubt you can undo it just by diet and exercise. People are jsut afraid.

  10. glenn bogue says:

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    I will try again. People on your blog seem to confuse “proper nourishment for your cells” with an attack on you personally. I am merely suggesting that we are all poorly informed when it comes to how the cells of the body function and what they are programmed to consume as fuel, and what is toxic to their ability to perform their tasks.

    Whether you choose diet or drug therapies, either one ought to require you to inform yourself just what are the things that your cells need to make this fight.

    When someone contracts cancer, there is a problem not with the genes,
    but with either the liver or the immune system, so that the lymph glands become overwhelmed with non-foods that shut off oxygen. Both the liver and the lymph needs cleansing of these substances that are creating the environment for cancer.

    FYI there are only six things the cells require for perfect health. I would think for the sake of your children you would inform yourself what these are and begin to consume them daily, TO ASSIST IN THE FIGHT (omega 3 oils are only one of the six ESSENTIAL ingredients.

    Secondly, the very best lymph cleanse occurs through jumping (per Albert Einstein who stated that the most powerful force on the cells is via gravity),
    so a poperly designed mini-trampoline (called a Celluciser) is in order.
    Let me know if I can be of further assistance to you.

  11. Stephanie Bare says:

    Dear Andrea, I am new to the whole blogging thing, so I hope that you indeed get this little note from me. I heard you w/ Dan Gottlieb and was so moved. I too am a mommy (as I am writing this my 4 yr old son is sitting on my lap waiting to press ENTER) and I know the depths to which our love and devotion goes. I am so incredibly moved that you are able to joyfully live each day for what it truly is, a gift. As mommies, we so often look to the future wondering what out children will become, accomplish, etc., when the real joy is who they are in this very moment, and who we are as their mommies and as women.

    I wish for you peace and happiness. Thank you for sharing your story so honestly. I hope you are having a wonderful day, TODAY.

  12. Anna Del Vecchio says:

    Hey Miss Andrea!! It was great hearing you on the radio yesterday (I listened with my mom). Of all the stuff you said I must say that your mention of Alec being a senior at BODINE was my favorite 🙂 Hopefully I’ll get to see you when you and Bailey eventually make it over here for lunch!


  13. Mimi Mannel says:

    Andrea – Your interview with Dr. Dan blew me away yesterday.

    First let me say I greatly admire him and his show and have been a listener (when I can) for years. I also read his articles.

    Secondly, you are awesome! You are an inspiration to those who have cancer of any kind. I love your survivor spirit. I have lost many family members and friends who were young mothers to different types of cancer. My Dad passed two years ago from CLL (leukemia) and my sister is a uterine and ovarian cancer survivor. Your spirit reminds me of them.

    Of course it sucks and of course you cannot blame yourself! I am so glad to hear you are not in the “blame and shame” business. You have wonderful kids and a great husband and a life to be lived – no matter how horrible or good a day can be. I was thinking as I was listening to the show in my car that I could just as easily be run into by a truck as getting cancer. Would anyone be blamed for that? I think not!

    This is my first experience with blogging, but not my last. An immense amount of love and admiration pours from my soul to yours. Be well and continue to be at peace. Namaste…Mimi

  14. terri says:

    Andrea …

    I am an NPR addict, and supporter, have been for many years. I heard you on Dr. Dan at work, totally by accident … was sure I was going to get fired, because I just… stopped… working…. and listened to you. Sometimes I cried, sometimes I laughed. I am someone who would never in a million years meet you or know you, an official white bread soccer mom, living in the ‘burbs, with the added edge of having left the soccer dad when the kids (3) were little, not willing to let them suffer the emotional abuse that I was going through, not willing to let them think that nonsense was normal. I think of myself as strong …. and then I hear about somebody like you, and realize what a mess I am. I listened to you, and thought about how I let my kids irritate me, how often I lose my temper, and I felt I have made so many mistakes. Women with true strength like you are my heroes, my icons, you are who I want to be when I grow up. I am Jewish, don’t share your church pew, but have equal respect for your faith, and your knowledge that you are being carried through this … you will be in my every prayer, you and your husband, and your children and friends and everybody who loves you. And I, like Doctor Dan, will never forget what you had to say. I saw that somebody else posted about chemo caps … if you ever want an absolutely AWESOME turban, write back to me, because I knit one for a friend who just went through double mastectomy, and she said it was her favorite, most comfortable …. I would be proud to know that I could do something for you. Please know how much you have inspired me, how much I learned from hearing from you, and how much I pray that your children’s lives are always happy.


  15. DanGottlieb says:

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    Dear Andrea,
    as promised, your smile and your presence have stayed with me since Monday. At the end of the show, we embraced and I watched you walk out the door knowing I would probably never see you again. When my producer came in the studio after the show, we just looked at one another in silence for a very long time. Our embrace made me think this: perhaps everyone who loves one another should hug that person as though they will never see them again.
    And one more thought about your being terminally ill. You are. So am I.. After nearly 30 years of quadriplegia, my body is showing its wear and tear so who knows which one of us will outlive the other. So we are both terminally ill. But what is really funny is that we were both terminally ill before we were diagnosed, we just didn’t know what.
    I love you

  16. Barb says:

    Dr. Dan,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Your kind soul, calm voice, and thoughtful insight have soothed many wounds and taught us to change the way we look at ourselves and at others. Your caring is a blessing to us all. You have encouraged us to heal our emotional wounds, showed us that we can survive even the most hurtful times, and encouraged us to examine and use our life experiences to understand ourselves and emotions better. You have shared your life and those of your guests with us, and we have felt comfort that we are not alone in our experiences in this anonymous society. Thank you.