Thursday, August 25, 2016

30 Months and 3 Days

Yep.  It dawned on me today that is how long it's been since my Lung Cancer diagnosis.  2 years, 6 months and 3 days.  Amazing that is how long it's been.  I can't begin to describe my delight when I see that typed on a page.

Fear - always

These are all words that can describe my past 2 - 1/2 years.  But as of today. JOY.  YES, JOY!!  That is the only way I can describe my feelings.  It has actually been that long. Dozens of chemotherapy appointments, 35 radiation treatments.  18 Opdivo treatments so far - AND IT IS FINALLY WORKING.  To see an x-ray report that repeatedly says "stable" within the description of all the tumors is a remarkable feeling.

To be honest, I never in a million years thought I would make it this far.  My mother's family (6 siblings) has a history of cancer.  They fought it as long as they could, but ultimately, 4 of them died of cancer.  I thought cancer would have gotten me by now.  

But by the grace of God and the medical breakthroughs, I am still here.  My life is considerably different.  I am still fighting.  I am still going every two weeks for treatments.  I still have side effects (nothing compared to chemo, but still...) and I continue to love.  I have too much to look forward to so I can't let the 'C' word get the best of me.

Doing the happy dance. Enjoying life.  Loving my family.  Taking exercise classes to "get stronger" to continue to fight the beast!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

LUNGevity 2017 National HOPE Summit

I'm participating in an event to raise money to fight lung cancer—and I need your help!
I'm planning to attend LUNGevity Foundation's National HOPE Summit in Washington, DC, in spring - it's a special conference just for lung cancer survivors like me. If I can raise $1,500 or more in donations, LUNGevity will cover my travel expenses, including US round-trip transportation and hotel accommodations.  I was lucky enough to attend last year and I am convinced the knowledge I came home with has helped me continue my fight to beat this beast.
Proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit LUNGevity Foundation, the leading private provider of research funding for lung cancer. Your donation goes directly to LUNGevity under my name.  Donations end March 24, 2017.
LUNGevity Foundation is firmly committed to making an immediate impact on increasing quality of life and survivorship of people with lung cancer by accelerating research into early detection and more effective treatments, as well as providing community, support, and education for all those affected by the disease.
Every dollar helps.  Please share my page with your friends and family as well. Lung Cancer effects everyone - smokers AND non-smokers.
Please join me in my efforts to stop lung cancer—the leading cancer killer—now!  CLICK HERE TO HELP ME REACH MY GOAL.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Feelings, Thoughts, Random Things

This post was NOT written by me.  A fellow cancer survivor, Micks Journey, posted this and it was if he read my mind.  I wish I had his writing skills to articulate into words what I am feeling.  The following did it for me.  I did adapt a few sentences for me, but overall - Thanks Mick!!

As someone who has been through the wringer with cancer, I possess a drive and a sense of urgency to accomplish the things I want to accomplish. I know the value of my health, the importance of my time and how precious each breath is. I no longer take for granted the days I feel healthy and strong because I have experienced what it feels like to have my body disobey and my mind pushed beyond discomfort.
After treatment there is this huge rush to get back as though nothing happened. A mistake people make is that some seem to think cancer is forgettable. Cancer is a part of me now. It is a part of anyone who has experienced it. We cancer veterans live daily with our cancer – in the scars on our bodies, the memories of the people who were kind when we needed help, and the way that we can never again take tomorrow for granted. I am not my old pre-cancer self. I’m someone different and that is both scary and exciting at the same time.
Cancer is a bully. If I cower in the corner, I help it win. But if I tell the proper authorities (my doctors), stand up to it, laugh at it, and use weapons like healthy foods and positive affirmations, I swing the odds in my favor. I will always continue to fight, continue to laugh, and continue to experience life. Without cancer and all its lessons, I would have merely lived. Now I thrive.
As a cancer survivor, I can’t ever have too many people surrounding me with encouragement on my journey.  My family, my children, my grandson, bring me joy, hope and the strength to forge on. My facebook family, my facebook friends, my "cancer" friends that I've made along the way help enforce the encouragement I need EVERY DAY.
Cancer has placed limitations on what I could do for a long time, but I didn’t let that stop me from forging a new path for my life. Let yourself be open to new things! Try things you have never thought about doing before. Enjoy them!! And enjoy yourself!
Yes, my life has been forever changed and yes, my life has turned upside. But even during this unplanned tumultuous part of my life, I deserved – no, I NEEDED to make plans. Maintaining my will to live and to put one foot in front of the other is, in my opinion, just as important as what medical science can do for me. Both must work hand in hand.
I don’t believe there are any one-sided lessons in life. Just as a broken bone heals stronger at the point of fracture, every defeat allows me go grow. I believe that each time my cancer knocks me back a step, the reverence that I have for life and its endless lessons grows stronger.
It is having faith in myself that helps me overcome obstacles in life, including cancer. When a thunderstorm rolls in, I just need to remind myself that there’s a sun behind those clouds. It will shine again – maybe not today or tomorrow – but it will shine again.
One thing I have been asked about a lot is how can I find the humor in such a shitty situation, and in many ways I still don’t know how to answer that question. I just find things to be funny. Not necessarily funny as in “ha ha” funny, but funny like bizarre (and yes, ok, some ha ha funny too). Cancer is random. It has a mind of its own. But cancer only controls me when I allow it to. It can’t take my spirit, my soul, my humor or my passions, unless I allow it to. So I dance (badly, I might add), I sing, I move, and I laugh in the face of cancer. I am very thankful for all the great things in my life, but sometimes life bites. When it does, I bite back.
The human spirit is precious and it deserves nourishment. Life can get back to better than normal. A new normal.
Remember this – whenever you face a challenge, any challenge, you always have a choice to view the challenge as an ending or as a new beginning.

Friday, August 19, 2016

CT Scans Update

Well, the time came.  3 months since my last CT Scan of my chest.  To go back for a moment, I started Opdivo January 1, 2016.  I had my first set of scans in May to see if it was working.  It was a bit inconclusive because 1 tumor got smaller but the rest in my lymph nodes got larger.  THIS IS TYPICAL with Opdivo so we really were in mystery land and didn't know if was working.

Yesterday, Thursday, I had my 17th Opdivo infusion.  Immediately following, I had a CT Scan to see if there was any difference and to see if the treatment is working.


This is HUGE!!  It means for the moment Opdivo is indeed "extending my life" as the commercials boast.  While the best news would have been to hear they were all smaller, I am perfectly content (and thrilled) that they have stayed the same size!!

I know I could have gone crazy these past 8 months waiting and waiting to see if my every other week therapy worked.  Without the love, support and guidance from all my friends and family, I possibly may have given up hope because of not knowing.  Your love and support got me here!!

Now, I'm gonna really kick cancer's ass.  Wish me luck and say a prayer for me as I continue my treatments.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Update For July

Such a busy month.  Hardly anytime to blog.  I apologize for that.  The month started out wonderfully as I attended a Free To Breathe Lung Cancer Conference in Minneapolis, MN.  The amount of information and the new friends you make is magnificent.

Such great information and made so many new friends.  It is a wonderful feeling to be sitting in a room with over 100 people who know exactly what you're going through and how much they understand.

After the conference, I was able to spend 4 days with my brother Alberto, his beautiful wife Stacey and Stacey's family.  I LOVE HER FAMILY.  As you may remember, I was unable to attend their wedding a year ago so this was my chance to meet everyone.

Below is my favorite picture - look behind us (up and down).  I've finally met a family as crazy as mine.

But the fun didn't end in Minnesota.  Four days after returning from MN, my sister and I drove to Virginia for our yearly "lovefest" with our cousins from across the US for 10 days.  This is a yearly event and fun to had every day, every minute, every second.

Cousin Shocky's backyard

This month has been so action packed.  I ended the month with my normal Opdivo treatment but the GREAT news is, on August 18, 2016 my doc is doing additional CT scans so we can see if the Opdivo is working.  Prayers are needed.

I've also begun to make some slow changes.  I've always been a water drinker so I started adding lemons to my water jug.  WOW - makes you feel so energized.  I also started drinking those NAKED juice drinks.  Between the two, I don't know what's doing it, but I feel great, so I'm not stopping.

Now if I could only walk a 1/2 a block without getting out of breath and needing a nap, life would be great LOL.

Will update again after my scan results are in.  God Bless - have a great summer.