My sweet angel

My sweet angel

Monday, May 23, 2016

But I am Loco Sometimes

Last week I had a few rough days.  It was last Saturday and Sunday to be precise.  It took me a week to write about it because I didn't know what to say.

Well, here it goes.  Anger is a form of grief.  I am going to get angry over stupid stuff once in a while.  Family and friends without cancer, I've tried explaining this to you, but some listen better than others.

I don't mean to get angry, but it's because I'm depressed.  Not right now, but in that moment when I'm angry.  And seriously, if I tell you it's because I'm depressed and you express no sympathy, it makes me more angry.  Keeping up your defenses and not trying to empathize is probably the worst thing you can do.  But, it's an eye opener.  The ones that know something is wrong with me because I don't normally get mad and just let it go....those are my true family and friends.  Because they know me down to my very core.  They know I'm in pain emotionally and let me vent and say things like "I'm sorry" or agree with me just to shut me up (I know).  But that means a lot.

You see, it does get easier living with this on one end, but on the other, you can (and are totally entitled) to feel angry.  I rarely do it according to my husband who took the girls to the beach and pool that day so I could cry without anyone around.  He knows me and he knew what to do.  He empathized, asked what  he could do, and I told him I needed to be alone, just a bad day.  For him to do that just shows how much he would do for me.  He had a billion other things to do, but he knew I didn't want Karley seeing me upset so he dropped everything for me.

Family and friends, grief can rear it's ugly head in many forms, and one of them is anger.  I'm asking you, before you get defensive and fight back, to think to yourself, "is this normal Samantha or is this Loco Samantha"  And if it's Loco Samantha, please, help me, don't hurt me by ignoring me or yelling at me.

I'm not trying to be mean by writing this post.  It is not often I get down, but when I do, I get really down.  And I am entitled to that periodically.  I am entitled to get mad, yell, even smash plates (yes I've done that, don't worry, increased my meds).

That's the part about living with lung cancer most people don't get.  "She looks fine, and has no active cancer, she's fine, why is she acting like that?"

Well, cancer doesn't jut hurt you physically, it will break you apart piece by piece emotionally.  It will shatter your heart again and again.  And the longer I've lived with it, the harder it's gotten emotionally.  And no, It's not gone.  I'm not in "remission".  I'm dealing with this for the rest of my life.

I finally got down on my knees and prayed that God take this burden and sadness.  Then I went to sleep and woke up feeling so much better.

Just know, I'm not okay inside, not always.  It's something I will deal with for the rest of my life.  And the family and friends that care enough to stay in my life need to know that.  Because if you don't understand that, and think I'm just throwing myself a pity party, walk in my shoes for one day dammit, and see how you handle it.  And if you don't want to empathize or have a little compassion, well, you can go and I will understand.  It's hard to be my friend I'm sure.  But I didn't choose this life, it chose me and I'm making the best I can out of it.

I'm not directing this towards anyone in particular.  I'm just putting into words what I can't always say to people.  Please don't be offended and just take it in.  I'm not "playing the cancer card".  I'm expressing my true, raw emotions and I need my family and friends to be able to handle that, because it's already hard enough for me to.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother's Day - Cancer Mom/Daughter Perspective

Mother's Day is so special to me.  Without Karley, I wouldn't be a mother, so she is the reason I celebrate this day.

I was watching a recording of Grey's Anatomy last night, and in a twisted way it reminded me of how I was when first diagnosed.  The two mothers are arguing over custody of a small child.  One of the mothers realized it would be better to relinquish custody than to have her child ripped apart.  The story taken from 1 Kings 3:16-27 when Solomon must decide the true mother of the baby.

In a way, that's how I felt in the beginning, but under different circumstances.  At that time, I was more willing to let John have Karley, than to allow her to be ripped apart by watching me pass away of this disease.  I began pushing her away, asking John to take her more.  I tried to distance myself from her any way possible.  This wasn't the right thing to do, I found out from my therapist.  It does prove my love for her is greater than the love for myself.  I thought, if she didn't love me as much and wasn't around me so much, it would be easier on her when I'm gone.  My feelings didn't matter, I really wanted her around every second, but I would do anything in the world not to hurt her.  I didn't want her ripped apart.

I am glad that I changed for both of our sake.  I've lived a lot longer than expected and built so many wonderful memories, and I continue to do so.  I've realized that she will be hurt regardless of my actions should I pass away.  But, I want her to remember me as the mother that loved her more than anything in the world.  I guess all of that in the beginning was a way of dealing with everything.  Thank God for that therapist.    And thank you God for carrying me through all of the darkness the beginning entailed.  The cancer is still with me, just sleeping.  But I know with God, all things are possible.

Now, we are happy and loving life and I gained a stepdaughter, Livi.  So now there are two of them to love.  And I do love them with all of my heart.  Livi isn't my biological daughter and I can never replace her mother, nor would I ever try, but I do love her very much and will continue to be here for both of them as long as the good Lord allows.

Thank you all for your continuous prayers.  Please pray for all of the others out there, with this same burden, because they love their children so much.  Pray for them to have peace and do what's best for the children.  And thank you mom, for always being here for me.  For giving me strength, advice, love and support always when I needed it most.  I love you so much.  I couldn't ask for a better mom.

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.