Posted by: jility | May 24, 2015


It has been a while since I have written about my health. Unfortunately, to quote my oncologist at my last scan results meeting, “…the news is not good.”

Cancer sucks! It robs people of their lives and it is a real pain in the ass! All I want to do is train and run my dogs. Most days I can’t even do that without it being a terrible chore. I honestly do not know what I would do without Sir Cussalot. He is an amazing man and I am so blessed to have him! He goes above and beyond for me. I know it is not easy at times, but he always steps up!

The reason I have not written anything or said much to people is that I hate talking about it. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me and I don’t want people to look sad when they see me. I do NOT want sympathy! I just want to run my freaking dogs!

Last fall two cancerous things showed up in my abdominal cavity. When they did surgery in January, they found three cancerous lymph nodes and two places on the outside of my colon that were cancerous. Everything was removed and my colon was resected in two places. There is not much left for storage! I told the surgeon that I did not want a bag. I have visions of running at a trial, falling and the bag splits open and everything spills out all over the course!

Now, dogs are NQed for soiling in the ring but what about the handler? It would be my worst humiliation nightmare. I guess I shouldn’t have written that because the Universe has seen fit to send me all of my worst nightmares. They have come in many forms but the fun just keeps coming my way.

About six weeks after my surgery, I had a pet and ct scan. Those scans showed two places in my liver that were cancerous. They put me back on chemo and scanned me again six weeks later to see if it was working. “I am afraid the news is not good,” Dr. Lenz said in his thick German accent. “The report shows that you have at least a dozen tumors in your liver now and something in your lung and gallbladder.”

My heart sank but I was getting used to bad news. I have never cried over this or felt sorry for myself. I was a bit pissed but that too is not a reaction I want. There is no way I want to go through the rest of my life pissed or sad.

Dr. Lenz went on to say that he had more options. One was a controlled study. He said he may have a spot opening up and if it did I could have it. Long story short, it never opened up.

So, the old chemo was doing nothing for me and the chemo I was on in the beginning that made my face, throat, hands and feet tingle and burn from the cold, was ruining my liver so I can’t have that either.

He said there was a fairly new drug called Erbitux. It is not a chemotherapy drug but targets the tumors and prevents them from growing. It contains mouse genes. Some of the side effects are acne and errant hairs on your face where the acne is. LOVELY!

He said that the more zits you get, the better it is working. LOVELIER!!

My first thought was that I hoped I didn’t spread the hantavirus or crave cheese. LOVELIEST!!!

A friend told me NOT TO GET A CAT! You gotta laugh ‘cause the alternative sucks!

I never had acne as a kid but I am ashamed to report that I made fun of those who did! Payback is a bitch! Sure, I had the occasional pimple, but nothing like the horrific burning and itching pizza face I am dealing with now!

This is about the only stuff that gives me relief but ain't no way I will go out in public like this! I will just post it for everyone to see who reads my blog LOL HUMILIFICATION!!!!

This is about the only stuff that gives me relief but ain’t no way I will go out in public like this! I will just post it for everyone to see who reads my blog LOL

When we were kids, my siblings and I (there were six of us – two boys and four girls) were brutal to each other. One of the things we used to say to each other was:

“Does your face hurt?”

We always had to answer, “No why?”

“BECAUSE IT IS KILLING ME!” was the patented response.

That has never been truer than it is for me now!

So I was talking with my friend Claudia the other day. I was telling her how my face was terribly broken out as was my scalp and behind my ears. I said that I thought God hates me and keeps sending shitty crap to me (no pun intended) to make me humble (as if I am not humble enough after all I have been through!). I said, “The humilification is killing me!” Claudia, being the great friend that she is said, “Is that a word or did your chemo brain make it up?” Then we both laughed like crazy.

Honestly, I really wasn’t sure! My brain, once a pretty dang good one and about all I ever had going for me, is mush from the chemo. I can’t remember from one minute to the next. My wonderful friend Jef Blake, who always leaves me laughing, and that is a very good thing, asked me how I remember agility courses. I thought about it and realized that I had not lost my ability to walk a course once and get it. I guess I still have that to hang on to. Unfortunately, I rarely trial anymore because I am too weak from the treatments. I am missing my favorite trial in Pomona this weekend! We thought it was a chemo week so we didn’t enter. It turned out they rescheduled treatment and pushed it back a week so I could have entered after all.  Another cruel joke!

WAH WAH WAH!!!! SOMEBODY CALL ME A WAMBULANCE! OK, so I do feel sorry for myself once in a while but I hate it when I do!

It is amazing how we take our lives for granted until something happens to snatch everything away from us. Enjoy and embrace every moment you have. Life is too short to be angry at your dog for a training or trialing issue. Be nice to your loved ones and friends. Avoid those who cause you angst. There is no place for stress in this world!

LOVE YOUR LIFE OR FIX IT IF YOU CAN! If you can’t fix it, enjoy the ride!


Helen Grinnell King


  1. Today is the 4 year anniversary of my colon cancer diagnosis. I know how much treatment saps your energy, and how humbling it is when your body fails you. I am blessed to have renewed energy and health. It is precious. I pray that you, too, will soon return to the joy of running your dogs in agility. I love your attitude! Keep up the fighting spirit, and I hope to see you soon.
    Your friend on the journey, Edie

  2. Sending energy and hugs your way. Your attitude is inspiring.

  3. You continue to be my Hero! As my hero, you are obligated to fight and win all of your battles! Thank you for giving me my best life ever–JazzMean, veganism and your friendship.

  4. Helen you are living and experiencing my worst nightmare. Been intimate with cancer 3x and then experienced it by watching it consume my best friend. It is sucky and you have the right attitude. I wish you all the best and you will be in my prayers. Sometimes I avoid going to the doctors at all because they always seem to have the worst news. I worry about my dogs and home falling apart without me to manage it all. So even though I really wanted a Q this weekend and I really want to accomplish great things with Max……I am very grateful for my health today. Hang in there. Prayer is powerful.

  5. Helen, I’ve never posted to you before, but this part of your blog really, really hit me hard. I’ve been a whiney, miserable witch lately because I’ve been sick with some unknown crud that keeps changing from day to day. You’ve put everything in perspective. I was able to run my dog this weekend. I don’t have agonizing medical problems and acne to boot. Thank you. I needed that slap to take the whiney right out of me. I’ve read your posts for many years (as I have Poodles, also.) I wish you better health and put you in my prayers, as I really believe prayers work. It’s good for both souls. So, as a lurking admirer, I send you virtual, electronic hugs. You are an amazing being.

  6. I just thought you were putting on your geisha paint! xoxoxo as ever

  7. I am a standard poodle lover and semi agility beginner!
    Sometime life does suck and shit happens but you have managed to keep your humor( most of the time).
    To distract you on Saturday my one standard poodle had to have a C-section and all the puppies were stillborn.yesterday she started crying and I thought she was in really bad pain but it turns out she had a little tiny stuffed animal she was missing her puppies that you never got so she had a sad day too but this is only a distraction for you.
    I hope you get to trial your dogs soon because I know it is such a good feeling to run that minute and a half. Wish I didn’t live 3000 miles away from you so I could meet you I hear you are the icon of training and of standard poodles.
    Annie Burke

  8. Sending you all the positive vibes I can, Helen, and I am in awe of your sense of humor throughout and your tough battler spirit. I so hope you get some good news soon!

  9. Helen, you and I have been fighting cancer for just about the same amount of time … and we both LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to run agility!! I just came home from a trial and every single day I am grateful that I am still able to get out there and run. So far, I am lucky that my stage IV lung cancer has been contained because of a clinical trial I got into for immunotherapy.

    You have a beautiful attitude and it makes me really sad and angry to read that the cancer is not cooperating with modern medicine. Although, it sounds like maybe the new stuff is working based on the issues with your face!!

    Always hoping for good news when I read your blog. Praying that God will see fit to heal those nasty tumors so that you can continue playing agility!

  10. Oh Helen! Lmao or cry. Your wit, honesty and strength are intact. Some powerful insights. Sending good vibes and healing light. Hope you get to run dogs soon. Pankins needs you!!

  11. Your sense of humor & way with words is priceless!
    The white mask doesn’t look that bad. Sort of like zinc oxide sunscreen. No reason not to run agility.

  12. How do you have the ability to write so well and still have us laughing through the tears. Teaching us all so very very much. Big hugs from Brent and I to both you and Sir Cussalot xxxxxxx

  13. All I can say after reading this is you are an amazing person, so glad I know you!

  14. You are the best, Helen! Cancer sucks!

  15. You and your ” better half” are truly amazing. Would that we’d all show your courage.

  16. Sending good juju to you, Helen – I always appreciate your posts which usually have me in stitches but dang, didn’t want to read that. Still, you are in my thoughts and hope to see you at a trial soon! Kim 🙂

  17. as usual, made me laugh my ass off, helen. no more important message out there, tho. can i share this? love you.

    • Of course you may share! 🙂 I hope it will help others. That is why I write about it.

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