Thursday, February 23, 2017

1095 DAYS, 156 WEEKS, 3 YEARS

Happy Cancerversary to ME!! February 23, 2014, I was admitted to the hospital with what they thought were 4 tumors in my lungs.  If you've followed my blog since the beginning, you know it has been a roller coaster ride.

6 weeks of IV antibiotics with a PICC line, surgery to remove all of left lung (2 lobes) and numerous lymph nodes, chemotherapy for 2 years, radiation therapy for 7 weeks (everyday minus weekends), metastasis to right lung, immunotherapy which has been working for 14 months.  All my new normal life.  

Prior to my diagnosis, I worked full time.  February 23, 2014 was my last day at work.  Since that time I have been on disability retirement and had to come to terms that I will never work again.

Prior to my diagnosis, I never faced my mortality head on.  Since then, that is all I do.  I say that and I know it sounds dreary but I really don't mean it that way.  Once a diagnosis of cancer is received, one tends to go through the same stages of grief from the loss of a loved one:  denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.  The denial and isolation is what led me to begin this blog in the first place.  It gave me an outlet to express my feelings and informing family and friends about my condition without having to relive it over and over.

I mean, who goes to the doctor with an on-going fever and comes out with a Lung Cancer diagnosis - this girl here.  

It took me a long time to reach acceptance.  That was the hardest of this journey.  But I now know, everyone will die sometime.  I just so happen to be one of those who knows "it's coming."  So in the meantime, I enjoy every moment I have with family and friends.  I try to educate everyone I meet YOU can get lung cancer.  It is the #1 killer in the U.S.  Yes, I know you thought it was breast cancer but truth be told, lung cancer kills more people than breast and colon cancer combined.  The problem is people who never smoked get it.  People who smoke (or quit) get it.  It effects everyone.  

So my days are spent enjoying what I have.  Not complaining about what I don't have.  Enjoying my children.  Enjoying my grandchild.  And my advocacy work.

It hasn't been a fun-filled 3 years but it has been more educational that my prior 54 years.  Once you accept you have cancer, you can begin to dwell on the goodness of everyone and everything.  You stop taking things for granted - and you love with a vengeance.

Here's to ALOT MORE YEARS!!!  My spring and summer are going to be fantastic.  2017 HOPE Summit in D.C, Free To Breathe conference in Minnesota, 2017 Family Lovefest in Richmond....and so many more memories.


My daughter Caitlyn - hair growing back.

Spectacular Lung Cancer Conference - Free To Breathe

5k run and 1k walk to raise money for Lungevity

2016 Lungevity HOPE Summit attendees group photo

Hair be gone!

My WONDERFUL 7 children

A picture from a nationwide slideshow

The air I breathe - my grandson Cameron taking me to my birthday dinner


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

THE END OF 2016

I wake up each morning curious to see how my mood will be.  It is totally dependent on how I am feeling and how I slept.  With cancer, this can change daily - almost hourly.

Most days are good.  A few side effects, fatigue, upset stomach.  All of which can cause a bad day so I am lucky these are few.  

Over the course of the year, I have watched so many friends I've met through the lung cancer community lose their fight = and they fought to the very end and sometimes it was a sudden death/decline.  And there are those who were told they had 1 month to live and are still here 1 year later (and more).

Nothing is certain.  Nothing is to be taken for granted.  The amount of celebrities that we lost this year is staggering.  Another today. Everytime I look at social medial I wonder "who is next?" I keep asking myself when will it stop?  But then I realized I don't want it to stop. Enjoying and loving is what we were put on earth for.    WE all will eventually die.  But it is what we do with our time here that really matters.  Be kind.  Be loving. Look out for our fellow man.  Help our fellow man.  

This is not a life we can conquer without help.  We must realize it takes a village to raise a child.  The same can be said for the cancer community. There are always questions, feelings that you don't want to reveal to close family.  We have a team of medical professionals that keep tract of every ache pain, scan, xray, medication that we depend on to take take care of us.  Their caring is what is keeping me alive.  My lung cancer survivors I've met and I meet in secret Facebook rooms to vent our frustrations, anger, despair, celebrations for good scans and just about anything else we want to talk to.

2016 has taught me more than ever, life has it's up's and down's. So.etimes more than the other but over time it will even out.  

I tell you all how great I feel.  Most days I do.  What I don't tell you is ...
when I pass someone who sneezes - I stress for a week, "am I going to catch that?"
when I get a pain somewhere...anywhere...and I secretly cry, "has it spread?"
each day when I talk to my kids, I think, "will this be the last?"
in my mind, I always think, "is this the last ____ holiday they will see me so don't let them see my true inner fears?
Those days are few but they still happen.  I don't tell everyone about these because I strongly feel everyone is fighting their own battles.  THAT is what is the most important thing I learned!!

No matter how bad I feel and no matter what beast I am battling, there are those with much worse.  

2016 has been rough.  Let's just wait a few more days and it will be over. We can only pray that next year will be an improvement for everyone. Let's not dwell on the past.  Let's make it a point to do better for others and ourselves. 

May you all have a HEALTHY, joyous, prosperous and loving 2017.









Monday, December 19, 2016

OUR FAMILY

As I described in my last post, our 2nd son got married on December 2, 2016.  Here is the wedding video provided by the photographer.


A beautiful wedding, a beautiful family, and a beautiful day.  I'm in the striped dress and the pictures are the newlyweds family and friends celebrating with us.

(Pssst....my beautiful grandson, Cameron, was Dad's Best Man - giving a beautiful toast).

34 months and counting - I'm kicking cancer's ass!!

My beautiful 7 children............


Thursday, December 8, 2016

IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME

Wow, it's been a while since I updated but it's been a busy few months.  I continue my chemotherapy/immunotherapy every two weeks.  Thanksgiving was a whirlwind as we had it at my son's home a week before his wedding.  My new daughter in law, Amy, has been wonderful and such a loving person to join our family.  Who else would have 15 people at their home 1 week before their wedding for a Thanksgiving celebration.

The wedding was FANTASTIC.  I am overflowing with love for my family.  All the kids pitched in to "get er' done" and the evening was super.  Now that Amy is part of our family, we have 6 new family members to love and welcome to our family (Amy's parents, sister and her family). 

 With the Thanksgiving celebrations (i did all the cooking) and the wedding a few days later, I'm exhausted.  But a good exhausted.  I did seem to get bronchitis during this time but we caught it early so I was ready and willing for all events.  Nothing shows love like being with your whole family. Nothing makes you feel better.  I was able to dance, celebrate, and share love with my family. I made it.  My biggest goal was to make it to the wedding.

Bradford (groom) - Amy (bride) - Cameron (best man)

Now the GREAT news.  I had a CT Scan Tuesday.  One tumor got smaller and the rest stayed the same.  That is the BEST I can hope for.  Never Ever - did I ever think there would be a time when I had cancer and was overjoyed with "no growth."  The first inclination is get rid of it - get it out- but we are past that.  I'm overjoyed with no growth.

All I can say at this point is - enjoy everyday, enjoy your family, love each other.  You never know what tomorrow will bring.  I've been blessed in 2016 to help plan and attend our grand family event.  I wish the same for you this holiday season.  Be present in the moment.