My sweet angel

My sweet angel

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Unicorns, Tacos, and Love

It's been a while. so have some catching up to do.  I got so lucky and got a double eye infection.  I used to tell my mother, "if something is going around, I'll get it".  And I did.  I was a sickly child.  I had a good run in my teens and twenties.  Now I have the big "C" in case you've never read my blog.

Lately, I've been good.  I've been recovering so well from the embolisms.  All that remains is the fatigue.  I can out sleep anyone these days.  I wish I knew of a competition for that!

So, my scans were changed to May, the same week I'll be in Atlanta for the benefit.  I'll post more about that as time gets closer.  I'm also attending the LUNGevity summit in D.C. at the end of this month.  I'm looking forward to seeing some great friends, but it will be a bittersweet trip.  Many have gone on to a better place, and I miss them so much.

Having lung cancer is constantly adjusting to your circumstances.  You lose friends, you have complications, you start new meds and trials, but you do everything you can to pick yourself up and enjoy what time you do have.  Cancer patients, regardless of what kind, make me feel I have an instant bond with them.  Then, after some time, you realize that some are into advocacy for the wrong reasons.  Some are in it for attention, pity, etc.  I'm not into advocacy for those reasons.  I'm here to try and help people feel normal with this awful disease, and maybe bring a smile out.   We all want to be normal again, but we can't, and never will.  Support and comedy is what comes from me.  It may not be much, but it's what I have to offer.

So, we adjust to our new lives, full of complications and loss.  Hilary Stanton Zunin once said, "The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief - But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love."  I couldn't agree more.  For all the loss I've seen in these 5 1/2 years, each of them has made me a better person.  Their spirit and love were not finished, they will live on forever in us.

So, when you see lung cancer patients doing well, know that they are not necessarily mentally well.  They have their own worries, but they also grieve for the ones going before them and the families, knowing very well it could be their own time at any time.  But shouldn't we all live like each day is our last?  Because it's not up to us.  Hold onto your loved ones and never miss that opportunity to express your love.  The last thing Nicole and I said to each other was that we loved each other.   The same with my friend Roy.  Because we may have lived, but we never knew when one of us may leave.

This applies to family and friends too.  Don't have regrets.  I know most of the time I don't take anything seriously, but this I do.  I love the people in my life, that have stayed through the good and the bad and those whom I've met along the way.

So, after this very serious blog, here are some fun things.  My daughter went full on brunette and ever since, we've been asked who the mom is.  It's flattering, but she's growing way to fast!  She had her hair colored at a salon for the first time ever.  Of course I had to take pictures.  It's what moms do!  Drove her nuts!

I also got to meet my niece, McKenzie, for the first time.  My sister and family stopped by to eat on their way from Orlando to Baltimore.  It was so good to see them.  Karley and Sarah Catherine instantly formed a bond.  Karley gave her some bracelets.  I miss them so much, I can't wait until they move back to North Carolina. 

Karley also got a second piercing in her ears.  I took that opportunity to be a unicorn.  Her face went 50 shades of red as her friend took the picture.  But Karley was getting her ears pierced and forced to watch her grown mother be a unicorn.  She is so funny.  She laughs but she's also mad.  She can never stay mad at me!

Finally, thank you all who have donated to the fundraiser so far.  With the bills coming in, it has helped more than you know.  I thank God for the people I have in my life every day.

As always, thank you for your continuous prayers for my family, friends, and myself.   And here's some pics!


And then there were 5 girls

So sweet, I miss this

Love this one, and she already loves Tacos!


They are so cute together

My lil sis


She's 13

Had to throw this in there.  So good Cheddar's!

I finally got to be a unicorn and Karley couldn't stop me








Monday, March 19, 2018

No Ordinary Day and Help!!!

Today has been one for the books.  Not in a good way.  It's been pure exhaustion. 

It all began Friday night when we discovered Stitch, our rescue baby, had a really bad ear infection.  He also gets car sick.  My vet is 12 miles away.  So, I was going to take him tomorrow since I had an eye appt today and needed to go grocery shopping.

Well, here's where it went wrong.  I woke up.

I decided I needed to take him this morning because I could tell it was bothering him so bad.  I'm nauseated in the mornings, every morning.  But, I was going to risk it for the baby.  Bad idea.  I pack up the car with the seat cover because I know he's going to vomit.  Get everything ready and head out.

As I was halfway there, Stitch began vomiting.  Okay, I had the canvas.  Well, he decided he wanted to jump to the front and vomit on the passenger floor.  I tried to make him go to the bathroom before leaving, but it was raining and he wouldn't.  So after he vomited, he immediately goes to the back and takes a huge, smelly poop on the canvas.  At this point I just want to thank God no one was next to me.  I crossed two lanes to pull over as I was dry heaving. 

I took the canvas out and threw it away.  I couldn't take the smell.  I finally made it to the vet, covered in dog slobber and really trying not to vomit myself.  I was nearly in tears.

The ladies were wonderful and when I got into the room, it became a domino effect.  I began vomiting in the room's garbage can.  The staff brought be a diet sprite.  It didn't do much.  They then suggested I leave, go clean my car, and go get a kennel and come back for the dog.  I immediately headed to a car wash.  It took me several times to find a vacuum that actually works.  I can now mark being asked to leave the vet off of my bucket list.  I mean, who does that happen too?  Me of course!

Next, still nauseated, I found a phenegren in my purse.  They may make me sleepy, but I knew I wasn't going to stop.  It did the trick.  I went and spent $112 on a kennel and some other stuff I needed for the animals and house.  I even got bowls for long trips for the cats. 

Then, I drove back to St. Simons for my eye doctor where I spent $228. Since my eyesight has improved, I needed glasses.  They gave me gum too (much needed).  Pretty sure it was my breath at this point. I had been cleaning vomit and feces before this appoint, so who knows. 

I arrived back at the vet to pick up Stitch (back in Brunswick), where he had a yeast infection in his ear, was given a steroid shot and both ears were treated with antibiotics that should clear it totally within two weeks.  I dropped another $286.  This time I had him in a crate.  It was a much smoother ride, event though he was covered in vomited AGAIN.

I stopped by to pick up my groceries I ordered online and spent another $105. 

So, today, I spent $700 I don't have.  It was awful.  I don't have credit cards anymore since filing Chapter 7, and now my medical bills are coming in.  My dad decided he wanted to do a fundraiser for me.  I mentioned it in my last blog.  They came up with a date, and it would be great to have a big crowd to come out.  I really look forward to seeing everyone.  It seems like it's going to be a Jonesboro reunion (except Dustin). Plus my family and friends, so good times all around.  I'm putting the flyer on here.  And they also started a GoFundMe account.  I'm attaching a link to that too.  Yes, I am stubborn and don't want to ask for anything, but $700 in one month is awful.  My income is just not enough to cover anything like what I had to do today.   I cried at both the vet and eye doctor.  I'm sure they must think I'm a total head case.  Well, right now, I am.  I'm so very stressed.  My 5 day hospital stint is costing a small fortune along with the many scans I had back in January.  I go back and April and will accrue more bills.  I need a savings account for medical bills or other unexpected expenses and I need to start a trust for Karley.  That is what this money will be used for.  After all my bills are paid, my net income is $28.  It's scary at this point.  As if cancer didn't give me enough to worry about.

I just wanted to say, although today was AWFUL, I was ALIVE.  And I was able to do this all.  And for that, thank you God.  Thank you all for your continuous prayers.  And if you think you're having a bad day, just come back and read this blog and imagine me covered in vomit, dry heaving from the dog straight up taking a huge crap in the back seat.  The vomit I could handle.  The other, awful.  Picture in my head now....priceless.

I'll remind you all when it gets closer.  Any amount helps but if you just want to come see me, I'll be there all day.  There's tons of you I would love to see.  My Dad and the staff at Hammers are amazing for doing this for me.   And my mom is amazing for always being there too.  I love you guys.  God Bless you all!  And as Nicole would say, LIVE LIFE NOW.  Love and missing you every day girl.

Enjoy the photos below of Stitch, and Megan's birthday reunion (Happy birthday girl) with the kids at Mellow Mushroom.   Cheers Jennifer West.  Lol.   Love.  And believe me people, I really hate asking but I need to provide for Karley and me.  And if you can't afford anything, prayers are actually the best!  I'm alive, broke, but ALIVE!

Here is the link Go Fund Me Account Link











Thursday, March 1, 2018

Living

Remember back in January and February when I was struggling over those pulmonary embolisms?  Well, I'm happy to say I feel 98% better.  That 2% is just fatigue easily from lack of exercise, which totally caused me to gain weight.  Ugh.  I was mad about it, but not anymore.  It'll come off.  The exciting news is....I'm still alive!!!  I surpassed the 5 years, filed bankruptcy, and 16 days later had a 4 day hospital stay.  More medical bills are already rolling in, and I totally can't afford them.  So, my dad and his friends at Hammers Bar and Grill, next to the Atlanta Airport. will be holding a benefit to help me pay them so I can start rebuilding my credit.  Cancer will ruin your finances.

Now that I don't have credit cards, I don't have a cushion should anything go wrong.  I know the last thing I should be worried about is money, but I plan on living so need that credit score to go back up!

We haven't set a date yet since we will be working around my scan schedule so I can be there.  It will most likely be on one of the last weekends in April or first weekends in May.  I will post as soon as I find out.

I did want to say this.  Be thankful for what you have and your health.  Because in the blink of an eye, it could all change.  No warning.  I may have stage 4 lung cancer, but I've realized, it can get worse and I am so blessed that God has the healing process going on quickly.  I pray for Don who went through and still going through the same thing.  Nicole thought she had them and called us Twinzies.  I wish she had instead of what took her from us.  But she's free, that gives me so much peace.  This is a hard world to be a part of.

We may get knocked down, but the lung cancer community is tight.  We are a family.  If you are a caregiver and lose your spouse, just know, you will never lose your family.  We are all in this fight together, patients and caregivers.  We are always here for each other.  I love my community.

Well, I'm getting sleepy again because I thought I was superwoman the past few days and I just crashed.  But my house is clean!

Thank you for all of your sweet words of encouragement throughout this part of my life and thank you for your continuous prayers for all of us who need them.  You all inspire me to get back up!  God bless. 

And, since I don't really have any pics for this post, I'll show you my made up self with a wig and my non made up self without.  This is a rare event, for me to show this, but I would like to thank Tarceva for making my hair so crazy (and it refuses to grow)....and saving my life so far.  I think I look like two different people!

Almost forgot.  Happy Cancerversary Stefanie Wardrep!









Sunday, February 18, 2018

LIVE LIFE NOW! - Nicole Russell

This is the hardest blog I've ever written.  It's taken me a few days.  Our lung cancer community and her family and friends experienced an epic loss Friday.  Nicole Russell was taken from us, her children, and her husband, Jonathan.  I know we all have different beliefs, and I usually don't discuss those beliefs with friends, mainly because I don't want to force religion down someone's throat, but also don't want to lose friends.  Politics and religion are the two things I don't discuss.  But I am not ashamed of my religion.  No, I'm not perfect.  I sin.  But I do try to follow the path God has laid out before me, wherever it may take me.  That's why I post my thoughts.  That way, if you don't agree, you don't have to read.  But if you do or don't mind reading my beliefs, I hope I can help in some way.  But I need to write as a release now.  It's like an addiction.

I got the call Friday while driving home from Atlanta.  I had to cross 4 lanes of traffic to vomit on the side of the road, I was crying so hard.  I try to be hopeful, but lately it's been hard.  I waited too long to go visit her.  I will never forgive myself for that, and please don't tell me I should.  I had no idea how sick she really was.  She would always worry about everyone else who meant something to her.  She would seriously facebook stalk and track down their friends and family to make sure they were okay. 

She sent me silly snapchats to cheer me up on a regular basis ever since we met in person at the LUNGevity Hope Summit last year.  We also texted and talked on a regular basis.  She quickly became one of my closest friends.  I told her she was thug.   But, she always ended up making fun of me for being thug when I got mad.  We shared the same views on a lot of things, such as how you say a loved one has passed away.  She felt that if she wrote it, everyone could get over the way she says it because those are her thoughts and words.  And who are we to judge?  She was right.  Totally and completely right. 

She was spitfire.  She didn't sugarcoat things.  I LOVED that about her.  She didn't put up with anything.  Most of the time I don't either. To me, Nicole was fearless, except when it came to leaving her loved ones behind.  She didn't worry about herself.  She worried about everyone else.  I know she was so tired of living in this cancer world.  She took breaks but she LIVED.  With her family, she really LIVED.  She didn't let cancer define her.  She defined the way we should be living with cancer. 

There are no words I can say to make anything better, other than, she is no longer in pain.  She is gone from this world that was making her so sad due to cancer.  I believe she's our guardian angel now. 

After Nicole passed, I posted I wouldn't be attending the Hope Summit.  Ron Fong told me to make a page.  Ron and I share a lot of the same beliefs.  He is an angel on this earth.  Within 10 hours the lung cancer community raised $1,650 to go.  I was amazed.  I am so blessed that so many people cared enough to donate for me to go.  But what was truly amazing, is that Katie posted there were more people.  As if it were an instruction from God and Nicole herself, it became a domino effect.  Our community began raising so much money.  We needed that love, that hope, that unity to help those who couldn't go otherwise. Now we can share stories, love and hope.  There are angels walking among us.  God bless them for working with man upstairs and Nicole on getting us together.  That was the main reason she wanted to go.   To see her friends.  Well Nicole, we will be there and there is no way your presence won't be. 

I love you my friend.  Thank you for making me laugh, cry, angry, and to purely LIVE like there's no tomorrow.  You took a piece of my heart.  Hold onto it until I see you again.  I have so much more to say, but I don't know how to put it into words. 

Thank you all for your continuous prayers.  Love you all.  God bless.














Wednesday, February 7, 2018

It's 3 am I must be lonely

I so miss the good old days.  I still know the words of that Matchbox Twenty song like it came out yesterday.  "Well I can't help but be scared of it all sometimes".  The last verse.  It's always stuck with me.  It's now 4 am.  I couldn't sleep.  Tomorrow night will be my first time alone since I had that pulmonary embolism January 15th, Karley's birthday.

Let me tell you, pulmonary embolisms are no walk in the park.  I'm just now getting around to do things.  I did some laundry, dishes and straightened up.  Then I literally passed out for 3 hours.  I don't have near the energy I used too.

I get serious vertigo now too.  I can't just jump out of bed like I used too.  If I sit up to fast, I fall back down.  I actually passed out getting out of bed the other day.  Thank God it was the bed I landed on.

And then I feel like pure crap.  Just everywhere and then there's uncontrollable crying.  It's ridiculous.  I don't cry much but this feeling is awful.  And it's been this way for weeks.  When researching I found it takes some people up to a year to recover.  Forget that!  I'm getting up and pushing myself because I refuse to feel like this for a year.  Time is precious over here and no way am I going to be miserable for a year.

I do feel myself slowly getting better.  I can stand up while holding something very slowly.  WTH?  I'm 38 years old.  I guess I'm just bitter, mad, and having an after hours pity party.  I know I should feel more blessed that I didn't die that day.  I know I should be grateful for living this long.  And I know everything happens for a reason.  I can't wait to get to heaven and find out this reason.

Karley worries about me so much now.  She's not sleeping well.  I hate that for her and as strong as I try to be around her, I'm a single mom and only human and just break down.  It's just been lately I've been doing this.  I just want to feel normal again.  Not the before cancer normal, even the after cancer normal would be a blessing.   But, I'm still here, trying to give everything to God.  It's so hard.  I haven't been able to fully let go, but in time I will hopefully quit scaring at every little pain. 

Well, now that I've written this, maybe I can sleep.  That's usually how it happens.  I miss being on the go.  My car hasn't been driven since January 14th.  She needs some love so maybe I'll feel good enough to go sit at the beach tomorrow.  It's always so peaceful during this time of year. 

Thank you mom for staying and taking care of things and doing so much, Betty for bringing us food, a new friend Adam, my ex Brent, Karley's father John, and all of you who have checked on me and helped us and thank you all for your continuous prayers and kind gestures.  You all give me much faith in humanity. And Cheri, thank you for taking me to the hospital that day.  I'm not sure I ever thanked you.  It's been a whirlwind year so far.  Maybe I'll start 2018 in March.  But, in all reality, I give God all the glory for bringing me this far.  There's a reason I'm still here.  I just need to get out of the funk.

Have to throw in some pics.   Here is my last oncology visit last week.  I get bored and play with snapchat. 





My dad is the most patient person ever.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Not always rainbows and sunshine

Because He wants you to depend on Him.  And Lord knows I'm trying.  I know the devil is trying to sneak in and cause me to break down like I am but I'm so tired.   This blood clot thing is literally draining the life out of me.  Today, I can barely get out of bed.  Thank God for my friend Lorna who is coming over to clean, laundry, and fix me some meals.   I never thought I could be this low.  And please don't post condolences.   I need fighting words right now more than ever.

I developed a terrible cough.  My leg was hurting yesterday like it did before the clot but it went away and that was okay according to my onc.  But I really feel the life being sucked out.  I need help.  I need help from my friends and family here.   I don't have many, but people who know me know that I would give the shirt off of my own back to help someone.   I need that in return now. 

I know, I'm usually the inspiring one.  But, this disease is so overwhelming it's hard to fight.   I don't feel like talking about it, I just needed to vent and for you to know if I don't respond, it's because I'm either sleeping or mid breakdown.  I called my mom for help when this happened.  And for the first time since I've lived here, I've called someone to physically help me.  I hate not being able to be independent.  It's killing me too.  But getting this all out is somehow making me feel a little better.  I'm going to take a pain pill and some xanax and take a nap.  I'm just so blessed to have the friends and family that I do.

As most of you know I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy 12/29.  I couldn't keep up anymore.  My meeting of the creditors was scheduled for 1/29 but I had it continued because I was afraid they would admit me in the hospital in Atlanta.  I have a neck CT scheduled for tomorrow because of pain but am still in Brunswick.  They continued my case until 2/12 and if I have to continue it again I have to get an attorney which I can't afford.  I'm doing this all my self so if any of you attorneys that practice down here can do a quick pro bono bankruptcy, I've pretty much done everything.  It would just help with the stress.  I can't afford an attorney, I'm not sure if courts get that you can't afford the fee and an attorney, that's why you file in the first place.  I'm just praying I don't get hospitalized again before then. 

Ok, I'm done with my rant.  Pleas pray for all of my friends dealing with this.  And believe me, there are a lot right now.  It seems we are all going down hill together.  I know the first thing I need to do is give it to God and stop the stress.  So that is what I'm going to work on.  And if anyone feels they can help in any way, please let me know.  Because right not I can't even be a mother, I can barely take care of myself.  I believe God will see me through this.  I just have to be strong enough to give it to Him.

God bless you all and thank you for hearing me rant.  Not always rainbows and sunshine.  Sometimes it pours.

I feel like I should still be here



Friday, January 26, 2018

As the Carousel Turns - Results 1/26/18

Well, I went for my visit in Atlanta this week, a week after being in the hospital for a pulmonary embolism.  In short, there is some fluid build up around where the clot is but it has reduced in size since beginning the blood thinner.  I will be on the blood thinner for life.

However, my shoulder and neck have been hurting for some time so I'm scheduled for a CT of the neck next week in Brunswick as a precaution.  We don't want anymore clots.  I've come off the birth control so will most likely have to have an ablation because the blood thinners will send my bleeding out of control.   The birth control was only to stop constant menstrual cycles.  Coming off is going to make me bleed too much.

So, that is pretty much it from the visit.  No new visible cancer, we are just focusing on the clots.  And once again, I praise God for me living this long.

Now, I'm not one to shove religion down your throat.  It doesn't matter what you believe, I was taught to love everyone and never push your beliefs on them.  I express my faith in God, but you may have a different opinion.  I promise you I will never force my religion or politics on you. My good friends know this. 

However, I posted on MY facebook page that "things were in God's hands", referring to my illness, because that is my belief.  Someone decided they wanted to argue about this and began making references to "the same God that allows war, homelessness, etc.". 

I don't feel that was called for. God may allow this, but mankind made the choice of freewill in the beginning. This person blocked me, and that is fine.  If you don't want to hear what I have to say, don't read my blog or my page and if you do, please keep that opinion to yourself.  And certainly don't fight with me over it.  I'm fighting for my life here, I don't need someone fighting with me over religion and politics.   Like I said, I don't care what you believe, I am here for whomever needs it.  It just makes me feel sorry for someone like that, just wanting to argue with a terminally ill patient about her beliefs in one of her darker times. 

Ok, rant over.  Thank you all for your continuous thoughts and prayers.  Nothing will make me thank our God less or blame Him for trouble in this world.  Please pray for a few of my friends too who are struggling.  I'll post more when I learn more from my CT scan next week.  Good bless you all.