My sweet angel

My sweet angel

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back to the Future

I've been really slacking on my blogging lately.  It's been an insanely busy summer.  But, time to catch up.

I know many cancer patients out there, including myself sometimes, feel like, "what's the point in planning a future if I'm not even sure I'm going to be in it?"   Well, the answer is, "so you can live and not let cancer win".  Cancer already does so much to us.  It takes away our self esteem by doing horrible things to our bodies, it hurts us and our loved ones, and it takes a huge financial toll.  And the thought of leaving loved ones behind, for the cancer patient, is unbearable.  Losing friends made in this journey is just another one of the hits cancer patients endure.

But, we are all given this one precious life, and God doesn't want us wallowing in self pity.  (There are days I will wallow, no one is perfect).  But I've made it on these meds for over 2.5 years now.  The shock of the initial hand I was dealt has long since worn off and it's time to move on.  There will be setbacks I'm sure, the cancer is only sleeping.  But to carry that burden is not my job.  That's where faith comes in.  So, I'm faithfully planning my future and will stand back up with every hit that cancer throws until God feels it's time.  I'm letting Him carry this burden.

Faithfully planning my future?  Well, as my Facebook friends now know, I got engaged.  I don't talk a lot on here about who I'm seeing etc because I'm sure no one wants to know the ins and outs of my love life.  People come to my blog to relate to another person with cancer.  But this girl is confident enough, through the grace of God, to pick up the pieces of her heart that cancer totally crushed and put them back together.

So, details?   Yeah, I'm a procrastinator but am working on them.  Even today. We will have something small because I'm gaining a stepdaughter and we can't afford anything big.  So if you don't receive an invitation, it's not because I didn't want you there.  It's because we just simply can't afford anything big.  Especially in this resort town where people actually come to get married.

So, who's the guy?   Brent Thompson.  A very faithful Christian and such a gentleman who happens to live across the street.   Where did he ask?  On the beach during a storm approaching at night.  You could see the lightening over the ocean.  Later on that night, I tripped on a stair and skinned my knee like a little kid.  Yeah, I'm clumsy.  Typical.

There will be more details later.  I have scans and results Sept. 18 so thank you for your continuous prayers and please keep them coming.   Also, please pray for my friend Elizabeth who recently received a cancer diagnosis and also my Karen Odell's nephew, Chase Busby, son of Chris and Cassie Busby, just diagnosed with Leukemia.  And finally, please keep our prayers up for Gretchen's family.  Those sweet girls lost their mama too soon.  Cancer is cancer.  It all sucks!

Karen Odell is greatly involved with the Free to Breathe Lung Cancer 5K we are participating in Sept. 12th in Jacksonville.  There is still time to sign up and join our team or donate if you are willing.  The link to join or donate is here:  Free to Breathe Jacksonville

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Can I Just Say Cancer Sucks Again?

I know it's been a while since my last post.  I've had a lot going on with Karley being out of school, tournaments, pneumonia, and coming off the steroids for it.  My days have consisted of sleeping as well as nights.  But tonight, I couldn't sleep.  I felt like vomiting every time I closed my eyes so went to facebook.  Something in my heart told me to check my friend Courtney's fb page.

Courtney and I met at MD Anderson in Houston in January 2013.  At the time, I was in a state of shock and depression still.  My nurse navigator put us together for bloodwork and we exchanged information.  Over the past two years we've checked in with each other every few months.  My last correspondence with her was March 5th.  When I went to her facebook page, I was absolutely devastated.  She passed in June.  Three months after our last email.  An email where she didn't sound as bad as I guess she was.  She left behind a husband and very young son.  Please pray for this family.

I feel like more and more of my posts are filling up with friends that I've met in this journey and they are leaving before me.  Survivors guilt is awful.  I cry every time.  But, I pick myself up and keep on living, because I know all of these strong women that have gone before me would have it no other way.
I can't put into words the world we live in.  On one hand I try to push everything cancer related to the back of my mind, but on the other hand, I know it's there.  Waiting for the opportunity to wake back up.  It scares me to plan a future and it puts me in a state of limbo.  Sometimes I just don't think I should plan anything, especially with my extreme fatigue (or lack there of tonight for some crazy reason).  But that would mean cancer is winning.  And that's not going to happen.

Anyways, on another note, I'm going to be speaking at the Free to Breathe Event in Jacksonville, FL Sept. 12th.  I usually participate in Atlanta, but I've been traveling so much, we are going to do the 5k walk/run in Jax.  So, if you can make it, please join us.  If not, please donate.  This is one of the good organizations striving to save my life, along with so many other people.  You don't hear about them much because so much of their funding goes directly to research, support and prevention.

If you would like to come walk with us or donate, the sign up is at the link here: Free To Breathe Jacksonville - Team Samantha  I would love to have a huge team and reach our goal.  Any amount helps.  Guys, I want to live!  Please help me do that.

Finally, thank you all for your continuous prayers and support.  God works in mysterious ways and is helping me in more ways than you can imagine.  I'll share some more on my next blog.  In the meantime, please help save us by funding this organization.  The government grossly underfunds lung cancer.

And thank you God for giving me this life, and every day I get to wake up and be with the people I love.  It is because of you I can face tomorrow, because you live.  Like the song says "Life is worth the living just because He lives".  My next results are Sept. 18th, so please pray they are still good.  Thank you all so much.

Maybe now I can sleep....

Saturday, July 18, 2015

I'm So Lost

So I'm on my second bout of pneumonia in 2 months.  Fun fun!  But, most importantly, we lost Gretchen Mitchell Anderson to brain cancer.  It is devastating.  When will this ever end?   When will we stop losing our children, spouses, mothers, fathers, brothers,,and sisters to this horrible disease.  I have no idea.  And this, my friends, may be the hardest part.   Because when you become a parent, that will always come first...whether it be caregiver or cancer patient.  It's hard to relate until you in that position..

The fact that I keep getting pneumonia is somewhat worrisome, but I know there are others worse off that I'm praying for.  Gretchen's passing hit me especially hard.  She was diagnosed about 5 months after me so we spoke a lot about our futures.  Now, just my future, which I'm totally unsure of.  I miss her, so very much.  She was always worried about me more than herself, such a kind soul.  As Emily Dickinson wrote, "unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality".  It's fitting in just a way that her memory will never be forgotten.

But as you all know, I still have my own battle that I try to fight every day.  Some days are better than others.  And today.....well, I started getting angry.  How could this happen to us?  We are so young.  We have children to raise.  What are they going to do without us?   I'm trying to push Karley to grow up faster than she probably should, I'm just scared to not be there for her.   I've gotten her involved in church and am trying to steer her in the right direction.  But, I don't want to lose the time with her.  Not one second.

So thank you all for the continuous prayera for my friends and me.  Even though they are not always the outcome we hoped for, God knows what he is doing.  I trust in that.  Please continue to pray for Gretchen's family, Brad Graves, and Carmen Frye. .Your prayers do work wonders.  

And Gretchen, we miss you more than you'll ever know.  You were so brave, you did not let cancer win.  You are my inspiration.  Til we meet again at those pearly gates, you will be in my heart always.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reason 57 Cancer Sucks

I totally made that reason number up.   There are so many reasons, I can't even list them all.  One of the hardest is losing friends.  You get sick.  You find a friend(s) you may have known forever that end up with cancer too.  You form a bond.  Not a bar hopping bond, but a bond of faith and love.   A bond where you share your fears, hopes, dreams, and anxieties that a lot of people don't understand.  Many of us younger cancer fighters fear being unable to watch our children grow up.  We trust in God to take care of them, but we don't want to miss it.  It doesn't seem fair.  But it happens. 

It is gut wrenching to lose these friends.  It's like losing a piece of your heart that can't be replaced.  Yet, it's just another symptom of cancer.  Yes, it's a symptom, it's a heartache that shakes you to the core.  It's contagious too.  It spreads to your family and your friends family, who is suffering immensely.  It's always hardest for the ones left behind.  And it hits so close to home for your family.  

I will never give up praying for a miracle.  But, it's a tough fight.  Sometimes we get tired and can't fight anymore.  I am praying for you my friend.  And thank you for being here for so long to share your journey with me.  I will always love you.  

I hope this blog made sense.  I've taken some anxiety meds so you never know.  Thank you all for your continuous prayers.  And please pray very hard for Gretchen Mitchell Anderson and her friends and family as well as Carmen Frye and Brad Graves and their friends and family.  I'm so blessed to have been able to get to know Gretchen and Carmen so well.  They have made such a lasting impact on my life through their relentless faith and fighting spirit.  God bless you all. 

2 Timothy 4:7
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Results, My Fashionista Spleen, and Cancer

As most of you on facebook know, I once again, by the grace of God, got results with no active cancer.  So, the tarceva is still working!  I had the pulmonologist pull the radiology report yesterday for me so I could read it last night.  I was fairly certain that everything was good...but one statement had me second guessing myself.

According to the radiology report, I have an "accessory spleen".  What the what?  I googled it, and apparently 10% of the population have it as well.  It's like a second, smaller spleen or spleen tissue.  It was the first time it had been mentioned on my radiology report so I was concerned but my oncologist quickly assured me that it was no big deal.  He compared it to an accessory, such as the hair extensions I failed to wear to the appointment today.  Then he went on to make fun of my tarceva hair.  Funny guy, that one.  I really do like him, we have similar personalities.

So, all in all it was a very good day.  I know it wasn't a good day in cancerland for everyone, this is hard too.  You see, when you are diagnosed with cancer, your circle of friends widens and extends to people you rarely (if ever) talked to before.  These people share the cancer bond with you.  So, you become close, sharing your fears, anxieties, ailments, sadness, and joy.  The hard part is when you get a good result and they don't.  Or if you don't even have results and their health begins to decline.  Sometimes you lose them.  This is so hard on so many levels emotionally.  It's like living in a different world.  One day they are there and the next time you reach out, you don't get a response, and you just know.  You either didn't get a chance to say goodbye or saying goodbye would make them lose hope.  But, you want them to know you love them.  They've been there for you and you for them and you've become so close it's hard to imagine not being able to talk or message them again.  It's one thing to drift away as friends.  Death is a whole different form of torture for the ones left behind.  And who knows, you could be next.

I know God has a plan for all of us.  I'm looking forward to finding out what that is one day.  Until then, I'm praying for my friends Gretchen, Carmen, Angel, Lysa, and Brad Graves....and a secret one.  Thank you all for your continuous prayers for us.  They mean more than you can ever fathom.

I'm getting ready for bed now, Battle of Atlanta tomorrow so I get to watch the karate kids!  Thank you all again and thank you Lord for another day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bye Bye Pneumonia, Hello Scanxiety

Oh how I love this roller coaster (insert sarcastic look here).  Why do these bouts of scanxiety keep getting longer and longer?  Simple.  I've been on tarceva a long time.  2.5 years to be exact.  A great many lung cancer patients don't have that kind of progression free survival time, so I have been very blessed.

As you know, I got pneumonia last week.   Or it seems, since I'm feeling better after the steroids (and an additional 5 lbs.).  The scary part for me is that the pain was coming from where my primary tumor is.  I know, I know, you can't feel cancer in the lungs.  But, it's still a scary thought.  I wish I knew already what was going on in there.  But, I don't.  And that is where the faith comes in.  I'm not perfect though, I do worry but faith is what keeps me sane.

I recently found my camcorder charger.  I was going through old videos from when Karley was so little.  The moments captured were wonderful.  It's amazing to see the young lady she's becoming before my eyes.  She watched with me, and later that night wanted to snuggle so much.  She said, "Mama, you are the best mommy ever and after watching those videos it makes me sad to think something could happen to you".  I just held her close and tried to reassure her that I'm here now, and that's what really matters.  We can't worry about the future.  (I sound like a hypocrite now with my scanxiety worries)

Also, I didn't let her see the videos I made when I was first diagnosed.   Man, I miss my hair.  But, I could tell how much I was hurting emotionally.  I feel like I've become such a different person.  Back then I was spitting out everything I thought I could tell her to fulfill a lifetime, only to realize that it isn't possible.  We have to do what we can with the time we have now.  You never know when it'll be cut short.

God designed this life to live according to His plan, not our own.  Wisdom acknowledges this.  We have to believe "Father Knows Best".  My beliefs on here may not always be popular, but maybe this is my purpose....just to reach someone else through this blog.

So, I'll keep trying to stay positive as the clock slowly ticks away until June 19th when I get my new results.  Thank you for all your continuous prayers.  They are always such a blessing.  Please continue to keep Gretchen Mitchell Anderson, Carmen Frye, Brad Graves, and another unspoken request, along with their families in your prayers.  I know they appreciate them.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I Thought It Was Heartburn..I Was Wrong

So last evening, after almost two days of what I thought was heartburn, got a "go to the ER" from my oncologist.  So, I did.

After 5 hours, scans and tests, it was determined that I have pneumonia, or that's what it looks like.  I got 5 days of steroids and follow up in Atlanta with my pulmonary doc if I'm not better or get worse before then. Yay cancer! (sarcasm for those that don't know me).

Let me tell you, it is painful, very painful to swallow or breathe deep. It also looks like the pneumonia is around my primary tumor that is hopefully still inactive.  We will find out around June 19th.  Please pray for it all to be still in active.  I can handle pneumonia.

So, I'm having a hard time sleeping but about to take another sleeping pill and rest for the next few days.  It's just so frustrating.  I thought I was overreacting by going to the ER, but when it comes to cancer, you can never be too careful.  So don't feel silly if you go and nothing is wrong.   Better to be safe than sorry!

Now that we know something is wrong, probably pneumonia, I can keep an eye on it and take care of it.  I just have so much to do this week, it's going to be hard to not do it.  I'm blessed to have friends and family that are willing to help.

Well, that's the update for now.  I'm about to try and go back to sleep.  So happy for the ID channel that's my 24 hour a day go to entertainer when I'm so tired.

Thank you for your continuous prayers for my friends and me.  They mean so much.  You all make me feel so blessed.  And most importantly, I thank God for still being here.

Silver Lining:  No blood clot, I'm still here, get to rest by doctor's order (but will be hard)!