Five moms at the same school get breast cancer

Yesterday when KOIN 6 News interviewed me, I mentioned that five moms at Abernethy Elementary are undergoing treatment for cancer right now. Jaws dropped. So they decided to do another interview today with Sari and me. Could something in our environment have triggered cancer in all of us? Check out KOIN 6 News tonight. In the meantime, here’s the story from yesterday:


1- Had an echocardiogram this morning to identify whether the chemo drugs destroyed heart valves. First indication was no. But the doctor “Reader of the Week” will take a closer look. Hearing my heart beat on surround sound is like hearing whales do a Zumba class.

2- Getting interviewed on KOIN 6 with Sari was interesting. We’re both afraid we might be living in a place that is quietly endangering our kids, much less may trigger cancer again. How can it be that I moved from Atlanta, a city with “Breathing Advisories,” to Portland to escape smog and end up with poor air quality here? Maybe the story will bring answers.

3- My house is so clean I feel like I’m on vacation. I still can’t do any heavy lifting or running vacuum cleaners, so we hired someone.

Doing something right

The first person who came up to me after the word spread that I got diagnosed with cancer was J, an 11-year-old friend of my kids. He said, “I heard the news and I’m really, really sorry.” Then, he gave me a hug. One night, Olivia and a group of girls put on a play to cheer me on. A few kids have dropped handmade cards in with meals their parents bring over. For Christmas, two boys bought me Ventress, a Star Wars character, to help me fight cancer. One day, my friend’s preschool boy stopped in his tracks when he saw my bald head.

“You don’t have hair!” he said. 

“Well, you have a lot of hair,” I said. “Can I have some?”

He got scissors! 

Since I got interviewed by The Oregonian about how to talk to kids about cancer, I haven’t stopped thinking about the kids in this neighborhood. We’ve got something like SEVEN Abernethy moms who are going through or have recently gone through breast cancer. I’m not the only bald mom at the rodeo. I wonder how many conversations come up at dinner. How many kids are wondering if their moms are next? I’m so sorry they have to even THINK about such a thing in elementary school. But the way they have interacted with me, it’s clear they think with compassion.

So to all the Abernethy kids who have wished me well, THANK YOU. I appreciate you guys so much. Thanks for looking out for Steven and Livvie through this mess, too. Our family deeply appreciates it.


1- Took Xena for a power walk to Mt. Tabor in the sun.

2- I got booked to deliver a speech to cancer survivors! Super excited about the opportunity to make people laugh again. Especially cancer survivors.

3- The Abernethy community rocks. Parents who care are raising kids who care. How cool is that.