My sweet angel

My sweet angel

Monday, April 25, 2016

No...I'm not normally crazy...

They say you find out you find out who really cares about you when you step back and take a look at who's still by your side when you go through hard times.

About two weeks ago I went through one of those.  I had forgotten to take my prozac for several days and was on progesterone (which leads to depression and PMS like symptoms).  Needless to say, I was a joy to be around and was unacceptably cruel to one of my friends, okay...a few of them.  But, that's when I found out they were true friends.  I didn't think so at the time.  I was bottom of the barrel miserable with my life.  The true friends forgave.  They know that you have so much going on, you are treading water to stay afloat.  I'm always a mess after the stress of scans.

But, I was blessed for that bout of meanness and depression I went through because my friends showed their true colors.  I may have lost one (none of the ones I was mean too), but it's okay.  It just wasn't meant to be.  You can build years of a friendship with someone, but the unreal ones won't forgive or will call you a liar or take everything you say in the wrong context.  That's the kind of person you don't need as a stressor.  Pick your battles wisely.  No point in wasting energy on someone who has already made up their mind about you.

No one really knows what it's like to walk in your shoes.  I need to remember this more about other people myself.  Other people have problems too and I really gave myself a pity party, which I regret.  I try to stay strong.  My dad always says, "the army don't want you if you ain't tough".  Ummm, I never wanted to be in the army, so that was a mute point.  But I have striven to remain strong.  I don't have to be, that's what our God is for, I know I am weak.  After giving it all to Him to worry about, it becomes a peace that's indescribable.  I mourned the loss of that friend for a short while, but looked around at the beauty, blessings, family, and friends I have and let it all go.  I am a forgiver...always will be.

I encourage you all to do the same.  Forgiveness takes courage.  So the friends I was mean to, they are pretty courageous in my book because I know how mean I can be, which I try not to. That was the old me and I regret letting it out.  I guess I wanted to share this all with you, not only to get it off of my chest, but to let you know that life doesn't have to be so stressful and one person should not have made such a dent in my normally positive attitude.

Onto newer things, I met Karley's father's girlfriend.  She's amazing  She snapped some shots of all of us at the mexican restaurant.  I think we are all obsessed with mexican food.  I know I am.  I'm blessed that she's found her way into Karley and John's lives.  I couldn't be happier for them.  Thank you for all you do Megan.

And I'm blessed for my family at home.  Brent, Karley, and Livi complete me.  I love to hear the girl's play or work together cleaning.  I am so happy with my life.  Just stay away from me near scans...before and after!

Thank you for all of your continuous prayers for us.  Please continue to pray for Carmen Frye, Ansley Jones, Chaseman, Deena Long, and all of the others suffering from these horrible illnesses.

God has a plan for all of us, we just don't know what it is yet.  He said in this life, there will be troubles.  I believe Him now!  But I also trust in His plan, regardless of what it is.

God bless you all!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mama said there'd be days like this...they suck

In the past two weeks, I have gone in for a petscan, had bloodwork, gotten results, gone to Atlanta twice and taken the kids for spring break.  I also, within this span, went to my gyno today to get more bloodwork and an ultrasound.  Little did I know, I was moments away from a complete meltdown.

After the ultrasound, I went in to see my gyno.  They had me do the usual undress, etc.  So, I lay there, waiting in stirrups staring at the ceiling, my mind somewhat blank.  When she comes in, she says something that literally made me tear up and after I left that hospital I cried the entire hour ride home.  She said, "sit up dear, we don't need to do an exam, you've been poked and prodded more than anyone should have endure in their lifetime.  I'll spare you."

No one had ever acknowledged that in the medical field.  Not only that, I was in the maternity wing and was robbed of ever having another child less than a month after my 33rd birthday.  So, it's very hard for me to even go in those places anymore without crying.  The smell, the surroundings, just take me back to when Karley was born, the happiest day of my life.

So, after the visit, I climbed into my car and completely lost it.  I lost it for the children I can never have, for the future I may not have, for my sweet girl that I never want to let down or leave, for my sweet family and husband that I don't want to see me suffer.   And for the doctor for finally, after over 3 years, acknowledging how rough it is.  Maybe it's good because I've been holding back for so long, but finally someone acknowledged my struggle.  I'm not sure if they were tears of joy at that moment in the room, but the others were tears of sorrow.

You see, sometimes you get bored with your life, things change in an instant, and you would give anything to have that old life back, just with a newer perspective because of that change.

My heart may be shattered today, maybe tomorrow, I don't know how long.  What I do know is that I will pick up the pieces and put them back together and keep going, for all of those I love.  I feel selfish even writing this because of the people that are so much worse off than me.  So of course that makes it even worse.

Thank you for continuous support and prayers.  Please pray for Carmen Frye, Kim Ringen, Deena Long and Ansley Jones as they battle this monster right now too.  God bless you all and thank you.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Results 3/31/16 and......where are we going for our honeymoon?

So, I'm going to make this short and sweet.  My petscan was good.  Nothing was hot.  The nodule in my left lung did grow a little, but it didn't register as hot.  We just have to keep an eye on it.  I need to think of a name for it though if it's going to be hanging out for a while...

I still have the two tumors in my right lung that aren't active, blue cross and blue shield.  Wish they would go away but they're like leeches.  Ugh.

Overall, I couldn't be more ecstatic!  And now, Brent and I can go on our honeymoon.  And now is the time to share with you all where we get to go thanks to my mom's friend Glenda and all of the donations we received for our dream honeymoon.

We're going to London and Paris for 8 days in a few months!  I didn't want to tell anyone until we were sure my scans came out good.  And they did!  So no more scans until we return from Europe!  Yay!

Thank you for all your continuous prayers for my family and me.  Please pray for Carmen Frye, Ansley Jones, and another friend, all battling cancer and having a very rough time right now.  I know there are so many of you, my prayers are with you too.

God has been so good to us.  I'm so blessed to have my family and this precious life!  I'm never going to take it for granted.  This second chance has opened my eyes and I'm so full of hope!  God bless you all!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

I Got Hitched Y'all

That translates to "I got married you all".  Just making that clear for my friends in the north and out west.

The weather was predicting a 90% chance of thunderstorms.  Ours was an outdoor venue.  I kept thinking in my head that later on I would be saying, "I got a garage" just as Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama said, "You have a a bar".  We all prayed our hearts out and God answered them.

I couldn't have asked for a more perfect and beautiful day.  Not too hot or cool.  Just perfect.  The venue was beautiful (my old place of employment).   The owner, Joe McDonough has been like a second dad to me and was so gracious to host this for us.  It really was a dream wedding, although I could not dance well in that dress or those heels!  Thank you to all of Ocean Lodge.  You guys really are family!  Norma Jean, the favors were amazing!

I haven't gotten the photography pics from that night, but I've posted a few below thanks to Chris Draft and some helpful friends and family. Believe me, when I get them I'll just post a blog of pics.  This ceremony was most important because we committed to each other and married under the eyes of God, because we do love each other so much.  During the pre-marital counseling, the preacher looked at Brent directly and said, "you do know what you're getting your self into with the for sicker part, right?  I want you to be totally sure and honest."

Without a moments hesitation, Brent replied, "I would take care of her for the rest of my life, even if we weren't getting married."  Wow.  That moment erased any doubt that could've been there.  And he does.  When I am not feeling well he waits on me all of the time.  He brings me beautiful roses once a week, always a different color.

When I was diagnosed, I felt I would never find love, happiness, and was doomed to a life of awaiting on an impending slow and painful death.  Quite the contrary has happened.  The diagnosis has forced me to live.  To take chances I wouldn't have taken before.  To have this wedding and go on the honeymoon of my dreams (thanks Glenda and all who donated) to London and Paris in June.

I want to see and do as much as I can.  But for now, I'm still resting.  I somehow managed to get a stomach virus right after the wedding.  On the plus size I lost 6 lbs.  But it was awful.  Thank you to the doctor(s) that invented phenogren.   This whole week has seemed like one day because of how much I've slept.

Anyways, I'm tired again but had to let you all know I'm now Mrs. Thompson but you can still call me Mixon. Arash does.

Thant you God for your continuous guidance and strength and patience.  And thank you to all of you who keep us in your prayers. They always mean so much.  Please pray for a new friend, Victoria, stage 4 lc at 28, my cousins son Connor (brain tumor), Ansley Jones (leukemia relapse) and Carmen Frye (post surgical complications).   Please pray for me too.  I have scans next week. Prayers that they will still be unable to detect any cancer are greatly appreciated.  Love you and God bless you all!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mama Bear Woes with Cancer on the Side

By now, I'm over 3 years into this journey.  But let me tell you, it NEVER ends.  It will NEVER end. Issues continue and we battle one after another, but I don't shout out to the world that I still have cancer (unless I'm joking with old friends).  In reality, it eats you up inside (literally and metaphorically).  I personally can't imagine losing Karley to cancer or any other illness, watching her in pain...just wanting to be normal. So to those parents fighting for their children or mourning their loss, I am praying for you, honestly.  You humble me.  Mom and Dad included.

However, watching your child worry about you, while you're worrying about what she's gonna do without you is emotional exhausting and will rip your heart to shreds.  It's as if there is a knot in my stomach every three months, it's gut wrenching.   Even the breaks between scans, to listen to your child say, "mommy, are you going to die tonight?" and not be able to answer "no" is devastating.  The nights are the worst, when she has time to think about the situation her mom has been in for the last 3 years, each day coming closer to an expiration date.

Karley was 7 when I was diagnosed and she just turned 11 in January.  She still needs her mom for so much.  When I was diagnosed, she totally changed.  Her grades began slipping, her focus wasn't there anymore.  She became more forgetful and continues to be so.  I've taken her to several therapists and even had a teacher recommend her be tested for ADHD.

I wanted so much not to do that.  I've tried so much to help her remember and get organized.  But time and time again different people in the community have told her that she's not paying attention, not focused. she's disinterested in school, she's lazy and all of that continues to lower her self esteem.

On top of cancer, seeing my child go through this is almost more than I can take.   I did some research on the emotions of a child whose parent has cancer (Stage 4 non the less), and it hit home hard.

A UCLA study documented that children whose parents are diagnosed with cancer are more likely to experience increases in general levels of distress and anxiety as well as mood changes and lowering of their self esteem.  Their distress may manifest into poor school performance, complaints of pain and discomfort, as well as changes in social and interpersonal relations.  The group most vulnerable to this is adolescent girls whose mother is sick.  School aged children tend to feel hopelessness.  Looks like we hit the jackpot.

Quite frankly, it is stressing me out to the point of near daily meltdowns when Karley comes home upset because she forgot something or did something wrong and got yelled at.  The American Cancer Society sites lack of concentration as one of the side effects of dealing with a parent with a diagnosis such as mine.  I know her self esteem is low and it breaks my heart.  She does a good job hiding it during the day, but not when she comes home.

If you're reading this, and you see Karley on a daily basis, try to put yourself in her shoes for a day. Parents separated, always worrying about the point she snaps a picture of me when at her dads when we are facetiming...every time.  It breaks my heart.  Or put yourself in my shoes.  What if you knew you would have to leave your child before you are ready?  It's pure torture.

Any little bit of encouragement, compliment, acknowledgement of something good she did would go a long way.  I'm sure everyone sees me as overprotective.  The truth is, I just want to see her grow up.  But, we all know that's a long shot.  So, I try to make her happy while I can, because I know one day I won't be able to do that anymore.  So, people can say I baby her or whatever, but to them I say, "is your child living with this?".  Her third grade teacher was probably the most understanding woman I ever met when it came to an instructor.  She knew what Karley is going through because she lost her mom at a young age.  She knew family comes before all else.  Because when one person in the family gets cancer, the whole family gets cancer.

I'm okay with what will happen to me in the end.  But, I so much want to be here with Karley.  And my poor parents, I know they have been on the brink of breakdowns for 3 years.

But for now, since my child isn't "focused, doesn't pay attention, and is lazy", I'll get her tested for ADHD because I'm sure it has NOTHING to do with her life being turned upside down.

Sorry for the sad post but this is how we live.  We make the most of it and are so blessed to have Brent and Livi in our lives now.  Despite her constantly feeling she is worthless, to me she is worth more than anything in the world.  I hope she always knows that.  She's the best thing I ever did in this life.  I love her more than anything and I pray daily she finds peace with God in this situation.

Thank you for all of your continuous prayers.  And please pray for my friend Carmen.  She's got late stage cancer too with little girls.  She's having a rough time emotionally and physically.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Catching up...WARNING - TMI for some men

It's been quite a while since my last post.  I was blessed to be interviewed by Family Circle Magazine, so pick up your March issue!  I have included some pictures below that were not included in the article.  If you want to know what it's about, you have to read it!

The countdown is on and when you probably read this, I will have 22 days remaining until our wedding.  Am I prepared?  Not in the least bit.  It's not the getting married part, it's the planning part.  I'm such a procrastinator.  It's not all my fault though.  I haven't been worried about it, it will fall into place.  There are more important things in life, like living.

Ok, so a little cancer talk since that's what this blog is all about.  Guys....ear muffs.

I've been having "women issues" uncontrollably since 2014.  I've seen doctors about them, everyone seemed to brush them off as not a big deal.  Well, since the beginning of January it got worse and would not stop, I felt like I was hemorrhaging.  I couldn't take it anymore.  It's been affecting my quality of life as I have no motivation to do anything but sleep.  No one could tell me an answer as to why or give me a solution.

I finally contacted an oncologist I met through Baptist in Jacksonville (a woman thank offense guys still reading, but you have no idea).  She immediately got me in the next day (Tuesday) with a gynecologist  (also a woman).  I was prescribed two medications to try to alleviate this situation.  She rocked.  I mean, she was immediately in contact with the oncologist at Baptist and in Atlanta making sure either of the meds would not interfere with my targeted therapy. She ordered an ultrasound and I go in tomorrow for bloodwork.  She already has a plan B.  I love her.  I've had all of my medical records sent to her now.  We are wondering if it's some side effect of the targeted therapy that isn't mentioned because not a lot of young people get lung cancer...maybe we are breaking some kind of new ground here.  Or, I just have excellent luck.  Probably the latter.

So, hopefully soon, I can feel as normal as I can possibly feel while living with lung cancer.  Ear muffs off.

One thing I did want to drive home in this brief, TMI blog, is that just because I look a certain way, or am able to run around and act normal, does not mean I'm done with lung cancer.  I will never be done with lung cancer.  One of the guys at work, love him to death, thought I was in remission and had beaten it.  Thing is, I'll always have this mutation and the key is to live with it, keep it under control.  I'll be tired, my meds are increasing, but I'm alive.  And right now, that's what is most important.  I'm truly blessed that Brent knows all of this about me and loves me enough to still want to marry me.  Cancer can take a wack at your self esteem, no doubt.

Well, I'm off to sleep some more.  Blood work and wedding planning tomorrow, oh joy!  Seriously, I'm not good at this wedding planning thing and wish someone would just do it all for me (I hope my Ocean Lodge friends are reading...I just pulled the card!)

Thank you all for your continuous prayers, they mean so much.  And please pray for Ansley Jones, who relapsed with her leukemia and my friend Roy, who is so hard-headed, but is doing much better with his leukemia meds.  Finally, please pray for Carmen Frye.  Her cancer is giving her a hard time right now and she needs them.  I'm sorry if I left anyone out, I'm exhausted.

Our preacher said something in church Sunday that resonated so much with me it brought tears to my eyes.  It was the second line in a sermon about Jesus and the three men cast into the fire.  The line he said was to the effect of "some people have to go through the fire with God".  Not around it or over it, but through it.  But when they come out of the other side, they say they wouldn't have changed a thing.  Because in that moment, it changed their life forever and they were never the same.  My eyes swelled up with tears.  It described me perfectly.  I am not the same, nor will I ever be again.  I don't want to ever be the person I was before.  And I'll always know I'm not alone.

Oh yeah, Karley's foot is better!  No surgery!  Thank you God!   And God bless you all!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

World Cancer Day - The Silver Lining

Today is World Cancer Day.....

Well, I'm on my way into year 4 as a member of this club.  Let me say, I thank God for that.  I've been blessed to have tarceva still working on my lung cancer and for the many docs who have fought for my treatment.

The cancer club is not the club you want a membership card too.  Although, I do have an actual physical cancer card...I try to make light of something so horrible.  I think it scares some people or puts some at ease.  I'm not sure, I'm not sure I care either.  It puts me at ease.

Though cancer SUCKS, there are two silver linings.

1.  The appreciation of life.

I'm like, "ok God, maybe we went overboard on opening my eyes" sometimes when I think about it.  But I was not appreciating life and the beauty that surrounds me.  I was a workaholic.  I never stopped to "smell the roses".  I used to just walk right past them, not even noticing.  Now, I cherish the sunset over the ocean.  During the summer, I love to go to the beach every weekend and just breathe it in.  The smell, the sounds, the children playing, the life.  (I know mom and docs, not supposed to be in the sun, I take an umbrella, my tan is just from the walk).  I love my daughter so much, I get a little over protective and let her get away with a little too much.(that's a drawback but when I think of her suffering, I can't help it).

2.  The friends I've made or have grown closer to.

I have made some wonderful friends (cancer patients and caregivers) I may not have otherwise known existed had I not joined this club.  I can't name them all in the lung cancer community but I'll try: Shermaine Lee, Rico Lee,  Paul Kalanithi, Lucy Kalanithi, Chris Draft, Lisa Goldman, Tori Tomalia, Arash Golbon, Molly Golbon, Dan and Rebecca Powell, Kelly Kayuk, Janet Freeman Daily, Debbie Pouncey McGettigan, Karla Southerland, Karen Parks Odell, Katie Dewey-Brown, Jill Feldman, Emily Bennett Taylor, Bonnie Addario, Corey Wood, Kimberly Stratham Ringen, Courtney Kyte, Don Stranathan, Craig Blower, Deana Hendrickson, Betsy Thompson, Denise Cutlip, Linnea Olson, Anita Figueras, Dann Wonser, Kristen Carlton, Roz York Brodsky, Lynn Jakobowski, Dusty Donaldson, Kelly Shannon, Matt Ellefson, Deb Bauer, Peggy Fogarty, Melissa Crouse, Lysa Buonanno, Mr. and Mrs. Stoner, Cliff Norton, "Good Morning" Jon- my first friend in the LC Community.... ok....I can't remember all the names, but look at this list!  These are just through the lung cancer community.  All of these people have made such an impact on my life through their stories of hope and some have really hit home when passing away from this awful disease, I'm not immortal.  My time will come, as will all of ours.  I just hope to follow in the massive footsteps they left behind.

I've also become closer to some that have/had other cancers and their caregivers: Gretchen and Matt Anderson, Carmen Frye, Roy Reynolds (better take those pills), Marjorie Polk, Maddie Briscoe, Ansley Jones, Chris, Cassie, and Chaseman, Brad and Barbara Graves, Cheri Burgner, Dylan Rosier and sweet Alexa and Katie.  We all have had different cancers, but we are all a member of the same club.  The club no one wants to join.  The club that should really no longer be in existence right now!  Once again, some are gone.  But there is a bond we all share, regardless of the type of cancer we have or had.  Cancer is on track to take over heart disease as the nation's leading cause of death.

So, in honor of World Cancer Day, just let me say it's been such a humbling experience and if I could change things, I'm not sure I would.  Collectively, these people and this cancer have made me who I am today.  This experience brought me closer to God, my family closer to God, and without it, I doubt I would be getting married next month because I would still be on the third floor of that condo and would not have met Brent.  God has a plan for all of us.  I am so happy, regardless of everything, with my life, in this very moment.  My life has been a good one and I have been so blessed.  I may sleep more, my hair kinda sucks, and I'm not as financially well off...but those things don't matter.  What matters is the fact I'm around the people I love and I could not ask for more, except maybe a cure now.  Like I said, I wouldn't change things thus far.  But going forward, a cure or long term treatment (like decades and decades worth) would be amazing, for all cancers!

My eyes are open now.  I was blind but now I see.  And I will continue to keep my faith.  Happy World Cancer Day (not sure it's appropriate to say that but wasn't sure what to say...) and to those who have left us, know you have never left our hearts.  Until we meet again, know we love you and we hope you're listening when we talk to you sometimes.

Thank you all for your continuous prayers and support.  They mean the world to my family, friends, and me. about that cure?

UPDATE:  When reviewing my traffic sources, someone googled, "Dr. Paul Kalanithi cause of lung cancer" to get to my blog.  Let me just go ahead and answer that for them.  ANYONE with lungs can get lung cancer.  Sometimes the cause is unknown.  So look for a cause all you will not find anything but the EGFR mutation.  #education

Also, my grammar nazi sister told me I had a bunch of mistakes in here.  I tried to correct most of them.  But, it's hard to write after the ambien dose. Thanks Brooke!