July 14, 2015


Where have all the bad perms gone?  They’re Here! (see pic below)

Today for my “chemo chair headshot” you see my hair, still mostly wet, no dryer, no curlers, etc.  I used conditioner, leave-in condition spray and Chi silk oil.  I’ve been advised to find a tub of cream cholesterol.  (Bad for the High Blood Pressure, but good for the hair?!)  This is one of the side effects of my particular mix of chemo.  So far, I’m experiencing only a small amount of hair loss daily.  It seems the hair dropping out is the straight, thick strands.  What replaces it is thin, very curly, and stiffly dry.  Totally reminiscent of the Rave(TM) home perms I had 30 – 35 years ago!

I know how vain I sound reflecting about hair.  I’m sitting in Virginia Cancer Institute’s 25 chair Infusion room.  All the chairs are full as I’m in my chemo ‘spa’ mode for the next 4 hours.  Looking around, I see a couple of ladies with tastefully sequined scarf-caps, some who are sporting ‘new growth’ hair, and men with crewcuts, bald tops, bad combovers, and cue-ball heads. (Hard to tell if this is their pre-treatment ‘norm’ or chemo related hair loss)!  There are several women, like me who’ve kept their own hair – for today, anyway.  Mine gets stuck in the tape and the IV lines.  Pull it back, and the driest strands break off.  This is my new normal for now.

Before March 8  (Diagnosis Day) I had NO idea that something bigger than a can of green beans was growing and multiplying inside me.  It goes to show. you seldom really know what’s on the inside.  You can have “it” and not know you have “it”. In this way, cancer is like faith – and vice-versa.  When you know “it’s” there – after it’s tested and tried – you can call upon “it” for strength, purpose and direction.  You find that sharing your experiences with “it” helps to encourage others.  Having “it” changes your identity, your purpose, and your appreciation for things mundane, small and hidden.  You begin to look for “it” in others, and when you find someone else with “it”, you share your heart, your ‘journey-tales’; they become a part of your larger family, a part of community. These are the things that make having “it” special.

I hope you all never have to discover your “it” if “it” is cancer, but statistically 1 in every 3 of us (speaking of U.S. Females) will.  1 in 2 U.S. Males will – if they live long enough – develop the “it” of cancer.  I hope all of you have discovered your “it” of faith. I have a feeling that the statistics for having a real faith is substantially lower than cancer.  From where I sit now, I know I am fortunate to have both “it”s at the same time.  Cancer has tested and proved my faith, and faith has purposed and enlightened my cancer.

Thankful for research and improved treatments – in cancer AND hair products – Here’s to “good hair days” AND finding and checking your “its”.

Love you all.  Keep the prayers, wishes and laughter headed my way,


P.S.  Results from yesterday’s CT and MRI scans show an additional 50% reduction in the 2 liver tumors!!!

Susan Randolph Bradenjuly15hair

March 31, 2015 – 3 years ago – the beginning of the Cholangio journey.  From my daily Journal…

God-Sized Humor?  March 31, 2015

“As I boldly approach the throne….”

Devotional reading this morning – for March 31th from Sarah Young’s book “Jesus Calling”.

Today’s verse Psalm 34:8   “TASTE and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

“Taste and see that the Lord is good….”  Of course – 🙂  Really, God?!    Yes.

Today is my first EVER colon prep day.  Hooray!  Tomorrow is my first colonoscopy and endoscopy.  A normal rite of passage for a 50 (ok, 51)-year-old, but add to that a nagging fear of finding MORE cancer…

Full day of black coffee, chicken broth and green jello.   AND 2 bottles of nasty tasting colon prep juice.  And yet, this being Holy Week, I’m ‘slammed in the face’ with this being NOTHING like the “cup” Jesus offered at Passover, and especially the “cup” he asked God the Father to take away from him.  My “cup” is a light-hearted champagne toast in comparison.

I do not believe in coincidences.  I have to believe that TODAY, in MY circumstance, I’m chosen to feel closer to Jesus than ever! So, today I will Taste.  I will take Refuge.

I also have the JOY of knowing that tomorrow, for all those people who over the years have said that I was Full of S#!T – for tomorrow, at least, I will prove them wrong!



C is for CANCER.

You don’t want to hear

That word in your mind

You’ve kept hidden in fear.


But now, as you hear it,

For Family? For Friend?

Yourself?!? You’re in shock.

“This is how IT will end”?!


Know we all have an end,

And this might be your way,

BUT you move, and you breathe.

Yes, you live – for today.


The best thing to do now

Is just take a breath,

And realize God only

Gives life or death.


So, today, you mist fight it.

You mustn’t “push pause”.

Cancer cannot define you —

It just gives you Cause.