My sweet angel

My sweet angel

Thursday, April 23, 2015

For Mandy Busch

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.  We don't know why, but we do know God always has a plan for us.  Yesterday, one of those bad things happened to our friend Mandy.  Her father passed away of a heart attack unexpectedly.  I've always been terrified of that happening to my dad (since he's had like 5).  But it didn't, it happened to Mandy's dad.

I don't know Mandy's dad, but I do hear Santa Steve and Mafia John met at a bar one day.  That's how they knew who each other was.  He introduced himself to my dad and they had a good laugh.  

I met Mandy through my sister.  We were friends, but became very close when I got diagnosed.  Let me tell you, her father did an amazing job raising this woman.  She has to be one of the most beautiful, witty, fun-loving, funny, courageous, generous, and patient women I've ever met. Those traits came from someone, and that someone is her father, her best friend.  I can only hope that my daughter turns out to be a person as full of life and love as Mandy.

I can't imagine the pain she's going through.  Some of you that know us may think it unusual that we are friends, close ones at that.  But, if you know Mandy, she has such a kind heart, and you quickly realize why we're friends.  There was a small group at my house every day after I got sick, and though she was tired from working all day and lived an hour away, she was there for me and I'll never ever forget that.  She and Brad even flew Karley back to St. Simons for me when I was in Atlanta sick.  Of course Karley wanted to sit with Mandy.  She absolutely LOVES her some Mandy.

She threw my sister's baby shower with me last year.  She did most of the work, I give her all of the credit on that one!  She's been to my celebration dinners.  She and Brad will always be a part of our family.  So, when her heart is breaking, our hearts are breaking.  I know Brook feels the same way (we've been texting this morning).  

So, in closing, please pray for Mandy and her family.  And Mandy, we love you so much!  And Santa Steve, thank you for giving this world such an amazing woman and such a wonderful friend.  You will never be forgotten, Mandy won't let that happen.  Emily Dickinson once said, "Unable are the loved to die.  For love is immortality".  I really like that quote.  Mr. Donaldson was loved, and though he is not with us in the flesh, he will always be in her heart.  We know he's in a better place, so hopefully Mandy will take some comfort in that, even though she would rather have him here.  He's in a place where there are No more sorrow, or tears, or pain.

Thank you all for your continuous prayers for me as well.  And please also pray for Carmen Frye as she gets her results today, my Mom as she plans my uncles funeral, and Roy Reynolds as he fights his own cancer battle.  Thank you all so very much.  Rest in Paradise Mr. Donaldson.

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Caregivers

It's been a while since my last post, but something has been weighing on my mind lately.

Sometimes, us cancer patients get so wrapped up in our journey, that we forget how hard it is on the people that care about us.  I'm going to use my mother as an example, because she has been my rock, yet watching her daughter go through so much has to be the most awful thing in the world.  To me, I would rather go through this myself than have Karley go through it, both emotionally and physically.  So the toll it has to take on her is indescribable.

You see, I know where I'm going one day.  I know that day may be sooner than her, but with all the new drugs coming out, it may very well be later.  But, I know we are both going to the same place, home.  That, in itself, is comforting.  Karley has a great father who loves her more than the world, that gives me more peace, she will be safe and taken care of by him.

Sometimes, you don't think about these things when life is going well.  But when it takes a turn for the worse, it can consume you if you don't have your religion and your support system.

I feel like right now, my mama needs prayers.  I know Karley, my dad, sister, Amanda, and my other close friends need prayer too.  But, as a mother myself, I feel like it's different.  Plus, so far this year, my mom has lost her precious dog, Charlotte, her companion, and just recently lost her brother unexpectedly.  Compile that on with the stress of having a daughter with stage 4 lung cancer and it's a recipe for disaster.  I don't know how she holds it together so well.

I do know that she loves me more than anything, even when we fight.  It's different now.  Cancer has done some good for us.  We communicate so much better.  And we don't take our time together for granted.  We forgive easily.

As much as cancer sucks, from now on, I'm going to try and point out one positive thing it brought into my life by the grace of God.  And in this post, that positive thing is the relationship I now have with my mom that I didn't have before.  I'm so blessed to have been given such a dysfunctional, yet loving, funny, charismatic family.  We all group text now....making each other laugh and we are all so much closer even though our physical distance is so much greater.  So for that cancer, I thank you,  But, the rest of you still sucks until I point out another positive on my next post.

So, next time you're saying your prayers, please pray for peace for my mom.  I plan on being here for as long as God allows.  And I'm going to be happy doing it because every day is a gift, even the ones where I binge watch tv or read a book...because I enjoy those things.  I've had a great life so far.  I have no regrets.

And mom, if you're reading this, I couldn't have been the way I am in this fight without you being by my side every step of the way.  Now, we just need to figure out how to get my hair to grow faster so you don't have to buy another wig or extensions!   And I love you so much.  Thank you.

Thank you all for your continuous support and prayers.  Please pray for all of the caregivers out there.  I think this journey is harder on them than it is us.

Finally, please pray for Roy Reynolds and family, Carmen Frye and family, and the Graves family.  They are all battling different cancers.

Proverbs 31:26-27
"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of the idleness."

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Results 3/27/15 and My Crazy

As most of you know from my Facebook post, my petscan results indicated no active cancer once again.  Of course I still have BC and BS (my two tumors), but they aren't doing anything.  I get to stay on the lower dosage since there hasn't been a change.  I'm happy about that.

I have to admit, I've been a basketcase these past few days.  Overly sensitive is an understatement.  I guess you can say it's understandable, but there's more.  It's getting worse with every scan.  I know with every day, I'm a day closer to tarceva not working.  I've always been a "plan b" kind of person.  I know there are new drugs already out there and on the horizon.  But, even with so much opportunity, this disease breaks you down.  My anxiety continues to get worse near scan times.   This time I cried like I had been diagnosed all over again before I got my results.  Why?  No idea.

I should be down on my knees praising God for this time, and I will.  But, I feel like I'm still living on borrowed time.  The emotional toll cancer takes on us is unimaginable.  I know some caregivers and patients know what I'm talking about.  It's just hard to explain to everyone else.  It's awful.

I guess my biggest fear is, and always has been, not being here for Karley.  That has been at the forefront of all of my thoughts every second of the day lately.  So, my best friend, Amanda, calmed me down Thursday night by suggesting a journal for Karley.  Not just this blog, but anytime I think of something I want her to know, write it in the journal.  That way it's more personalized.  I tried to make videos in the past but couldn't get through them without breaking down.

Let me just say, with lung cancer, I'm not sure I'll ever stop grieving.  I jump from one stage to another.  The good days, I'm in the acceptance phase.  And I have hope on those days as well.  But I still get angry, bargain with God, depressed, and flat out refuse to believe this is my life now.  Don't think I'm like this every day though.  Most days I'm rainbows and butterflies.... (ok, so don't ask my old co-workers about that).

But this is real.  This is my life and I'm blessed to have it.  Don't think I've lost hope or am sad just because I write a post like this.  This will always be my life (unless one of you can find a stinking cure!).

It's just normal to have anxiety and depression, especially close to scan time.  So, every three months, know that I will be super crazy and if you're my family or friend, just go with it.   Because I am still here, I'm not going to stop fighting, but I may get a little crazy!

Amanda posted this from Inspire.  I loved it so much, I thought it was appropriate for everyone out there fighting cancer.  Don't give up.  Pick yourself up and keep going.

Thank you so much for all of your continued support and prayers.  I can never thank you enough.

Matthew 19:26
"But Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible'"

Friday, March 20, 2015

Quick Update

After much thought, I decided to stay with Piedmont.  I know, call me crazy.  But, my oncologist saved my life without regard to an insurance decision or any other bureaucratic red tape.  He may not specialize in lung cancer specifically, but I can always seek a second opinion if anything progresses.

I do have scans next week and should get results next Friday.  I don't feel like I get scanxiety, but maybe I do and just don't know it.  I get sensitive really easily, although I'm not necessarily thinking about scans.

I'm looking forward to seeing my parents and friends in Atlanta next week too.  I need some time with them.  When I reflect on these past 2 1/2 years, those people are always there and will always be there. I love them so much.  They see past my forgetfulness flaws, my space cadet days, and my tired last minute timing.  I really feel blessed to be loved between these two communities that I call home.

Church this past Sunday was amazing. I felt it spoke right to my heart.  I encourage each of you going through tough times to watch it at  The sermon is entitled "Life is Tough, God is Good".

Please continue to pray for Lucy Kalanithi and family as they lay Paul to rest in another week or so.

Also, please keep your prayers coming for Roy Reynolds as he battles leukemia and Carmen Frye with her own cancer battles.  It seems like cancer is everywhere.

And I could use some prayers for scans next week too if you don't mind.  Thank you for all of them and please keep them coming.

Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dr. Paul Kalanithi - Gone Too Soon

I first saw a picture of Paul and Lucy Kalanithi a few days before NYE.  I'd heard of them, but forget things so easily.  We were both raising funds for Team Draft's Super Bowl Challenge.  They destroyed us.  But, when I read that it was his lifelong dream to go, I was okay with being destroyed.  It wasn't my lifelong I was down with winning the Taste of the NFL.

The first time I met Paul, Lucy, and Superstar Cady was in Phoenix for the events leading up to the Super Bowl.  We got to tour the field.  My favorite picture of their family was when they were laying on that Super Bowl field, as a family, smiling as though they were the happiest people on earth.

We had fun in Arizona.  I love that family.  Cady is the best baby girl ever.  I don't remember hearing her cry the entire trip.  Lucy and I quickly got along and Paul liked laughing at everything I said, because I pretty much told him how crazy my family has been since childhood.  They are good stories, I mean, you can't make them up.  But, that's for another day.  Paul said that one of the best things about his Super Bowl experience was getting to meet me.  That was such a great compliment that I'll never forget, I was glad we could make him laugh so much.

We quickly grew to love this little family and are planning a trip to visit Molly and Arash Golbon over the summer in the Bay Area.  Lucy, Paul, and Cady planned on meeting up with us too.  You know, an east coast west coast meet up.

Unfortunately, Paul passed away Monday night at the age of 37.  This renowned neurosurgeon had succumb to the beast we have all come to know too well as lung cancer.  His memory will live on through his family, friends, and all of the people he helped.

The last article he wrote made me cry like a baby.  Here is an excerpt, but you can read the entire article at the link:  Before I Go

"Yet one thing cannot be robbed of her futurity: my daughter, Cady. I hope I’ll live long enough that she has some memory of me. Words have a longevity I do not. I had thought I could leave her a series of letters — but what would they really say? I don’t know what this girl will be like when she is 15; I don’t even know if she’ll take to the nickname we’ve given her. There is perhaps only one thing to say to this infant, who is all future, overlapping briefly with me, whose life, barring the improbable, is all but past.
That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing."

Cady was loved by her daddy, she will never not know that.  And the love between Paul and Lucy was something we should all be so lucky as to experience in this lifetime.  Lucy is such a wonderful soul, whom we all could tell, loved her family with all she could, as Paul did them.

So, rest in paradise Paul.  You are finally free to breathe and have made such a profound mark on the lung cancer community.  My news feed is seriously filled with pictures and memories of you.  You probably never knew what a difference you were making, but I hope you see that now.

Please pray for Paul's wife Lucy and daughter Cady along with all of his other family and friends.  They need them so bad right now.

And please pray for Molly and Arash Golbon and family.  She's got a Pulmonary Embolism  and they are still at the ER while I'm typing this.   They have two beautiful daughters that need their mommy healthy.  They've all been through so much.  

And finally, please pray for another of my friends, Roy Reynolds, who was currently just admitted to the hospital as well.  He's got a long road ahead of him and needs prayers and support too.

Cancer is so prevalent, I feel like I was punched by it so many times today.  It wasn't really me, it was these families.  But, I feel like we are all one big community, even family.  I love these people like family.  You get close to them for emotional support.  Someone that is going through what you are.  But, when you lose them, your heart breaks all over again. Thank you Tori Tomalia for letting me know so soon.

Well, it's past 5 am, so I'm going to try to sleep now.  I just needed the prayers out there.  And thank you all for your continuous prayers and support for my family and me.  They mean so much.   

Revelation 21:4
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away"

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Karley - My Little Heartbreaker Already

So I'm sitting here at the airport in Brunswick, GA, waiting to fly up to Atlanta so I can see a new oncologist at Emory.  This is not how I imagined my life.  As I was leaving for the airport, Karley was crying, "mommy, please don't go.  Go another time".  Oh how I wish I could say, "okay honey" and postpone this whole thing.  After all, a little girl at her school, Alexa, just gained her wings.  She had brain cancer.  Her passing hit especially close to home for Karley so I hate leaving her.  I held my tears until I got in the car and really haven't stopped crying since.

Blogging always makes me feel better though.  You don't always have to read it.  I just get such a sense of relief after I put my feelings out there.   So today, I feel like my heart is in a million tiny pieces because I had to leave.  I love my girl more than anything and it just breaks my heart to see her cry with worry.   I'm assured she's fine now.   But I know it's because she's busy.  When night comes,  and it's time for her to rest her mind and go to bed, the bad thoughts creep in.  I hate it for her.  I don't think I will ever get over this new normal.  It gets a little easier with time  but it will forever be a roller coaster.

So, we are about to board and though it's only for a few days I'll be gone, know that I love you so much my princess. When you go back and read these,  know that I love you more than you can ever imagine and it breaks my heart every time I have to leave you.   I love you sweet girl and I'm so blessed that God gave you to me.  You are the best thing that ever happened to me.

Thank you all for your continuous prayers for my family, friends, and me.  God Bless.

Psalm 127:3
Children are a gift from The Lord; they are a reward from Him. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A New Beginning and Much Needed Prayers...

I don't know how people are able to navigate this journey without support.  To me, it would seem impossible.  I'm blessed that God had given me such great friends and family.  Believe me, you find out who your friends are when your world gets turned upside down.  It's just too much for some I think.  They are all there at first, but gradually fade away.  The true ones always check in on me.  I love them for that.  The rest, I don't resent....the old me would have probably done the same thing.

I haven't been blogging as much, I've been so busy living.  But, I'll never stop blogging, because this is a never ending journey, and my story is far from over.

So, what's new in my world of cancer?  Well, I've decided to change oncologists and cancer treatment centers.  Don't get me wrong, I love Piedmont and my oncologist now.  I just know that he has all different types of cancer to treat, and I'm a specialized kind of case.  Therefore, I need someone specialized in the treatment of lung cancer with EGFR mutations.  I've found one at Emory I'm going to meet with this Monday.  I'm praying we will mesh well because I really don't feel like flying up the east coast every few months.

Anyways, I'm going to update about my Monday visit next week.

In the meantime, please pray for the following people:

Alexa - Karley's friend and an old co-worker's stepdaughter.  Please pray for peace for her and her family in the next few days.  Alexa is in kindergarten, but she only has a few more days left here.  God needs another angel.  We are just praying for her and her family to have plenty of peace and support.

Carmen Frye - another JHS friend who just discovered she has cancer as well.  Please pray for her healing and support for her and her family at this time.   Also, I know how it is to find out this news.  It's absolutely overwhelming.  I know I couldn't talk about it for the first month.  So, if you send her well wishes and she doesn't respond, just know it's because her world has just been turned upside down.  It takes time to come back from that.  But I'm sure she will appreciate all the prayers and well wishes you can possibly give.  She's also a mother of young girls and was one of the first high school friends to reach out to me privately when she found out about my diagnosis.

Finally, my uncle Bill Webb.  He was found with a burst appendix after a week with no food or water.  He is in very critical condition in a Florida hospital.  He's had several surgeries, but sepsis and infections keep setting in.  Please pray for his healing and his faith and purpose to grow through this.

And thank you all for your continuous support and prayers.  They mean so much.  And to all my friends and family, I love you more than you'll ever know.  We aren't promised tomorrow, so if I forget to tell you today, know that it's in my heart....and always will be.

Here are a few of those special people that are there for me not matter what.  It's by far not all of them, but I'm so blessed to have this many.  And this doesn't even include my church, St. Simons Community or my old work peeps at Ocean Lodge!  I AM BLESSED!

Philippians 4:6-7
" not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."