My sweet angel

My sweet angel

Friday, September 19, 2014

Results 9/19/14

I was going to blog about the Falcons game and the Super Bowl Challenge, but it deserves it's own blog....so it will have to wait a day or two because I've gotten a lot of calls and emails and haven't responded yet.

So, I got my results today from my latest petscan.  The good news is, still no visible active cancer!  The aggravating news...I have two tumors that have decided to hang out.  These tumors did not light up, meaning they aren't spitting out cancer cells.

Since they've decided to hang out and drive me crazy, I've decided they should be named after my favorite insurance company (in my most sarcastic voice).  Blue Cross is the largest one from now on.  The smaller, is Blue Shield.  So, from this point forward, I will refer to them as such.  Blue Cross is about the size of a golf ball.  So long as the Tarceva continues to do it's job, it will keep Blue Cross and Blue Shield at bay.

I also got my blood drawn to send off for the Bonnie J. Addario Young Lung Study.  Yay!

It was a very long day full of appointments with various specialists.  So, when I finally got to my last appointment, I just broke down crying....in front of my gyno.  Why?  Who knows.  Fatigue, loss of blood from appointments, the stress of all of the upcoming appointments, the fact that my phone died and I was bored, or just tired of being at hospitals and with doctors all day.  Don't get me wrong, they are all great!  But, I will think twice about trying to take in so much in one day (especially without my charger).

I'm really happy to have this news...still cautiously optimistic.  I'm praying this Tarceva keeps up it's end of the deal for a very long time....because quite frankly, Blue Cross and Blue Shield scare me a little.  I do know that I'm very blessed though.  I just don't like things that scare me very much....  It could be worse, I know.  I know a lot have it so much worse.  So, I'm not going to dwell on it.  I'm going to get some sleep and help throw my lil sis a baby shower tomorrow.  Hope you all have a good night!  I will do my best to get the Falcons game up tomorrow!

God bless you all and thank you for your continuous prayers. They mean so very much!  Please keep John and Tina Roberts in your prayers too.


Matthew 6:34
"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."






Sunday, September 7, 2014

Shermaine Lee

I met Shermaine Lee on Sunday March 2, 2014 at the Caribou on Northside Pkwy in Atlanta for our first Free to Breathe Committee meeting.  We were the only two that were actual stage 4 lung cancer patients, so quickly we became friends.  The rest of the outstanding committee had either lost someone or had someone close to them diagnosed and were fighting with us.  But, Shermaine and I had a special bond.

We both had small children, an enormous amount of faith and fight.  She was a very devout Christian and it radiated from her every time we spoke.  Although our distance kept us apart, we still communicated frequently.   I think our biggest fear was always leaving our children so soon.  Not being able to watch them grow up.  I know it is mine, and it's what she was concerned about when we talked.  We never expressed the fear of death itself, because we both knew where we were going. We both knew our prognosis, but she always remained so positive when she talked with me about it.  We both didn't take "no" for an answer, and I knew that she never would.

On September 2, 2014, Shermaine went home.  Exactly 6 months after meeting her, she had made such an impact on my life.  As I sat at her wake this past Friday, I felt overcome with guilt.  I felt like I should've done more for her.  She was always asking how I was, and with the distance barrier, I didn't know how quickly her health was deteriorating until our interview at the end of July.

Now, please don't say I shouldn't feel guilty, because I'm stubborn and I will anyways.  I have this void now.  She was my lung cancer person.  We gave each other advice and cheered each other on.  I think she lifted me up more than I did her.  At the wake, I told her I was sorry for not being a better friend.

I know she's free to breathe and dance and laugh and run and she will have no more pain or sorrow and for that, I am thankful.  Because there is no doubt in my mind where she is.

It was amazing to see so many family and friends at her services.   If she made such a long lasting impact on me, I can't imagine how much she made on others.

Please keep her two sons (6 and 12 years old) and her husband, Rico, in your prayers.  Also, please keep her line sister Wendy and the rest of her family and friends in your prayers.  Shermaine was blessed with such an amazing support system, I'm sure it was because she was so fabulous herself.  Please also keep our dear friend across the pond, John Roberts and his lovely wife Tina in your prayers.  John has taken a turn for the worst.  Finally, please keep Tammy Swain Alexander's family and friends in your prayers.  She is now free to breathe too.  This beast of a disease is relentless.

I'm home now, resting today from driving to Atlanta Friday and back Saturday.  I would do it all over again for you Dr. Shermaine Lee.  I love you girl, and I'll see you again on the other side.

John 11:25-26
"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"





Monday, August 25, 2014

Living With It

I just want to blog today about what it's like to live with the big C...for those who don't know.  I know I'm one of the lucky ones that gets to take the daily pill, but it's forever.   Forever will I have to pay attention to what I eat, when I eat it, and when I take this daily reminder that I have cancer.

Now, to some this is a walk in the park.  I know so many people have it so much worse.  But, there is something we all do have in common, we walk within two worlds.  One of life and one of death.  It can go either way and we have to accept that.

I've been making a mental list of things that I've developed an absolute enmity for...and I've decided to put them down to share.  Everyone is different, but if you're my friend, here is how I feel.

1.  Please don't tell me everything will be okay.  Because the only one that really knows if everything will be okay is God.  I have Stage 4 NSCLC.  The 5 year survival rate is very low.  I understand that cancer breakthroughs are happening every day. Most days I believe everything will be okay.  But, some days, I just want to lay around and watch the ID channel so I can feel better about my "maybe" untimely demise.  Because, the people on that channel have it worse than me.  At least I get to make things as right as possible in my life, which is a very sick way to think...but I thank God for not going out the way some of those people do.  I feel bad for them!

2.  Please don't tell me the cure is to be positive.  Attitude is NOT everything.  This way of thinking makes those that are truly dying feel as if it is their own fault.  They weren't "positive" enough.   Someone commented on my blog about this earlier, I loved their rant.  I've known plenty of people who truly believed they would beat this, and they didn't.  Just say, "This sucks" and leave it at that.  Because, in reality, it does suck.  I'm all about being positive, but there is a big difference between living in a positive la la land and reality.  It's important to be realistic too.

3.  Please don't say "My friend beat Breast Cancer, if they can do it, so can you."  Not sure where you got your medical degree, but lung cancer and breast cancer are totally different beasts.  All people react differently to treatment for cancer.  I don't like being compared to anyone else with cancer when it comes to survival, because I'm different. It can go either way, but not all cancers are the same.  Please remember, NOT ALL CANCERS ARE THE SAME, NEITHER ARE THE PEOPLE THAT FIGHT THEM.

4.  Please don't ask if I smoked.  Seriously?  I may get arrested for decking the next person that asks me that after I tell them my diagnosis.  I know it's not their fault, it's our media and lovely cancer society that has driven this stigma into the minds of our society.  Maybe that's why I don't go around hitting people.  We need so much education in this country.  Not just for cancer, but for so much more...

Here are some things to remember about my situation:

1.  Be Patient and Forgive Me.  I have so much on my mind.  I'm forgetful, I forget whole conversations sometimes.  I also get angry sometimes.  Who wouldn't?  It's not necessarily at you, but you just happen to be there.  I may look fine most days, but my hair is breaking off, I'm doing everything I can to look normal outwardly, but sometimes suffering immensely on the inside.  I know my life will never be the same and I'm still accepting this new normal.   So, if I lash out at you or forget a conversation we had 5 minutes ago, please forgive me, because I would do the same for you.  I'm on so many medications that effect my short term memory, it's not that I'm not paying attention or don't care or even angry at you.  It's just a side effect of this "normal" I'm living.  I guess that's how I'm figuring out who my true friends are these days.  They are patient and they forgive quickly.  The ones that can't do this, well, I'm sure they will be just fine without me in their life....because to me, they're already gone.  

2.  Silence and Presence are Golden.  Some of my best friends know me very well.  They are the ones that were there for me from the beginning and they knew just what to do.  Just be there.  I don't want to talk when I'm depressed.  I also don't want to be alone.  So, in the beginning my friends would just come over and bring t.v. shows we could binge watch or entertain me by dressing in silly costumes and fighting each other.  Anything that takes my mind off of the diagnosis and makes me laugh or just not think about it.  They even took shifts, ensuring I was never alone.  If I get any bad news, I hope you all know you have to do this again!

3.  It's Never Over.  Just because there isn't any detectable cancer in my system during a few PetScans doesn't mean I'm cured.  This fight will never be over, unless someone stumbles upon a cure for lung cancer.  It's all about trying to treat and control it and most importantly, live with it.  Please remember when I'm so tired and I don't feel like getting out of bed, I'm not being lazy.  I am doing what I can.  There are days this happens (like today).  It usually occurs on Mondays and Tuesdays.   I also sleep more, 10 hours a night at least...and maybe a nap here and there.  Yet, some days I wake up ready to take on the world.  I can't predict those days, so once again, forgive me if I flake out early or don't do anything at all.  I do reserve my energy to fulfill my promises to Karley.  She does take precedence over others, which is probably why I stay in bed Mondays and sometimes Tuesdays, I have her to take on after school!

4.  Please Tell Me About Your Problems.  Just because I have this going on doesn't mean I'm not your friend.  I'm here for you.  I want to know about what's going on in your life because I care.  The ups and downs.  If you want to call and complain about your boss, I'm good with that!  Your kids, your health, you need advice, anything.  You don't have to feel like you're stressing me out when you vent to me....just don't make me get involved and we are good!

That's about all for now.  I'm sure I left some things out because after all....I forget everything these days!

And don't feel sorry for me....just pray for me.  I'm a big believer in the power of prayer.  Thank you all for reading my point of view.   Maybe it will help you deal with me or others with cancer or maybe you all will think I've lost it and totally disagree..I'm okay with either.  I'll probably forget I wrote this in an hour anyways.

Meanwhile, here are a few pics since the last blog, and one of my crazy hair growing in.  Karley makes me put a hat on but thought I would share my "real" tarceva hair.









This verse we discussed in church yesterday. a little something to think about:

Ephesians 5:15-16
Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gifts

What a weekend.  I'm not even sure where to begin, but will post a ton of pictures at the end so you can see how much we did.

I want to thank God for giving me the energy and strength to be able to do so much.  I also want to thank my family and friends who made it out to our Free to Breathe 5k.  It was so much fun!

We arrived in Atlanta Thursday night. Karley brought her friend Bella , so the three of us flew in on standby.  It was Bella's first airplane ride and trip to Atlanta.  She laughed so hard she cried.

I decided to take them to the World of Coke Friday.  I knew our friend and lung cancer advocate ,Chris Draft, lived near there so invited him to lunch with us.  While eating, he was approached by the coach for the Dream, Atlanta's WNBA team.  She asked if we would like to attend the game Friday night at Phillips Arena.  We decided to do it and Karley, Bella, and I went to the World of Coke after lunch.

The girls loved it and Bella tried every coke product in the world.  Then we went to a park where they both decided to spin around in some spin chairs until one fell off into the bushes and another got sick to her stomach (I warned them).  Thank goodness we already had plans with Chris for later and he lived across the street from the park.   We got there and bandaged one and let them rest.  Thank you Chris!  Then we helped him with his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge....which was hilarious!

Afterwards, we went to the Dream game.  They won.  The girls were more into meeting the cheerleaders and mascot, but they had fun.  Lots of pictures below.  Thanks again Chris!  Handling two only children all day was rough.  Couldn't have done it alone.

We got home late and had to be up at 6 am for the Atlanta Free to Breathe.  So many friends and family came out to show their support.   Thank you all!!!  I made a public speech (which has always made me nervous).  My friend Shermaine came out, even though she is having a tough time right now.  She desperately needs your prayers.  She's fighting the beast too and has two young boys she wants to see grow up.  So all prayer warriors, please pray for her.

Although our team didn't place, it felt amazing to cross the finish line with my girl this year.  She did such a good job and was ahead of me until the very end where she waited on me.  I love this girl more than I could ever put into words.

We met some great caregivers and warriors out there and it makes me want to do more, fight harder for those who can't right now.

We got home tonight and I'm exhausted, but wanted to get this out, because without all of you and our almighty God, I wouldn't be writing right now.  Please keep us in your continuous prayers.   This fight is not over.  I'm blessed that God has given me so much time already.


Romans 6:23 
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."