Friday, December 28, 2012

The Waiting

Now that I've caught everyone up on the fun things (except Christmas which will add probably tomorrow), I wanted to talk about the waiting.

I feel like this is the worst part.  I have no idea what to do with my life at this point.  I pray daily for guidance and it gives me peace.  But, I feel like I'm not doing anything and have this cancer inside of me and it's slowly killing me.   I just want it gone!  I'm on this roller coaster of emotions and I just don't understand.

Of course I have gamma radiation next week and MD Anderson January 7th, but the waiting game is breaking me down.   I'll be heading up to Atlanta Sunday and am looking forward to my black ninjas that will hopefully come by and make me laugh, because I need some laughter right now.  I am also missing my family a lot right now.

I'm torn between St. Simons, where Karley and John reside, and my original home, where my parents are, until I get through treatment.   I don't want Karley to see me really sick but will miss her terribly.   I also know it's best that her life remain as normal as it can be (ie same friends, school, social scene, etc.) and I know that she's got the best daddy in the world that loves her more than life itself.   Which, I cannot explain how comforting that is.  The Lord blessed Karley with such a great dad.  

That's it for now, it's off my chest for today.  I'm tired of waiting, I'm ready, with Him in my corner, to start fighting.....

Jingle Ball 2012 - Karley's First Concert

When  I found out about my diagnosis, not only did my friends stay by my side, but they immediately began helping me make plans for things I wanted to do with Karley that would probably need to be done sooner rather than later.   

So, thanks to Reggie and Amanda, I got to take Karley to her very first concert.  We flew to Atlanta on a Wed and flew back on Thursday.  It was well worth it.

Of course Justin Beiber was there.  It's hilarious to be a parent now.  I think we were embarrassing to Karley and Amanda's daughter Ashleigh....   Oh well, they had a blast.  I've added some pictures.

On the way!

She's so Gangsta

One Happy Girl!

This 3 finger thing is for Reggie...
I am so blessed to have been able to take Karley to her first concert!  Something she will never forget.  I praise the Lord and my wonderful friends and family for making all of this possible.  I love you guys!

Getting Out of the House!

Finally started putting makeup on and fixing the hair about 4 days out of the hospital.  The most eventful thing for the first week out of Piedmont was going out to eat with the gang (who told them it was my birthday and they put that stupid sombrero on my head).  Smart move after brain surgery guys!  Just kidding.   Below are some pictures....

Other than the Mexican Restaurant, I've come to greatly appreciate television.   I don't think I've every been so lazy!  I could totally get used to it.   But, had to get back to work so flew back to St. Simons about 2 days after this.   It wouldn't be long before I was back in Atlanta for a big surprise for Karley!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Piedmont Post Op

So after I was released from Piedmont, I stayed with my mom.   Everyday my friends were by my side....all day long.  I just love them.

I went in for a PetScan around Dec. 3rd and a follow up with the Oncologist Dec. 4th.   It was relatively good news.  They had removed the tumor from the brain and the remaining cancer looked confined to the right lung and the middle area of the lungs.   For the first time since meeting my Oncologist, he said he had hope.   He suggested, as the treatment plan, to wait 3 weeks after brain surgery and begin 4 rounds of chemotherapy (the most aggressive kind) every 3 weeks followed up with radiation to the chest.   They would check after the first two rounds to see if it was working.  Of course, I wanted a second opinion, that's just what you do.

I went to Mayo in Jacksonville, FL for my second opinion on Dec. 11th.  According to that Oncologist, my genetic testing had since come in showing that I tested  positive for EGFR, a mutated gene, which apparently makes me eligible for a newly FDA approved drug called Tarceva, which targets the cancer cells only.   Unfortunately, my body would eventually build a resistance to the drug and I would end up doing chemo and radiation anyways.  I love when they say, "It's not curable, but it is treatable" .

Now I was really confused.   Not knowing which option to go with, I contacted my oncologist in Atlanta.  He agreed the pill was fine, but I was not convinced it was aggressive enough.   Then the Mayo oncologist called me back and said she suggested chemo then surgery (which I was originally told it was inoperable).

AGGGGHHHHH!!!   So, I did what any sane person would do.  I contacted MD Anderson in Houston, Texas.   I now have an appointment set up for 1/7/13.   I can't start any treatment until then so as to not interfere with what they want to do.  The only procedure I have left until then is on 1/3/13 for an outpatient brain gamma knife radio-surgery    This is to ensure all of the cancer around the cavity of where the tumor was removed is completely gone.  

As of today, the outpouring of support from friends, family, and coworkers has been amazing.   My mom's work collected money for me as well as my church, St. Simons Community Church, for travel expenses and medical bills that are already piling up.  I praise the Lord for these people and for every day He continues to fight with me.  Every day is a blessing, it should be treated that way.

I'll update more soon....


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Beginning

It all began longer ago than I probably know about.  But it came to a head just before my 33rd birthday in October 2012.

I thought I had a terrible sinus infection.  I kept getting these migraine like headaches, so went to our local immediate health clinic.  After listening to my symptoms, they quickly prescribed some antibiotics and pain relievers and sent me on my way.

After finishing my 10 day supply of antibiotics, I promptly returned.  At this point I had started randomly coughing up blood.  It wasn't much, but scary enough for me to return.  The doctors told me it was a sinus infection and bronchitis.  More antibiotics prescribed, nebulizer for my wheezing, and pain pills for headaches.  At this point, I explained that I've had both a cousin and aunt that had brain tumors.  My cousin passed away very young because of it.   Yet, the doctor continued with his diagnosis ordering no additional tests.

November 14th, 2012 I went to Target in Brunswick, GA after work to pick up a few things.  Upon leaving, while at an intersection, my vision began screwing up really bad.  I couldn't tell the difference between vehicle tail lights and the imaginary lights that were flashing in my line of sight.   I couldn't focus on anything.   Luckily, I ran over a curb into a parking lot.  It's not a great area at night but I couldn't see my phone to dial 911 and just hoped a police officer would notice me and stop.  I remembered I had some advil in the car, I took it and sat there for almost 2 hours until I could see enough to make it home.

November 15, 2012 I was sick all night and called John to take me to the Emergency Room in Brunswick.  We were there for 5 hours.  I explained to the ER doctor that it couldn't be just a migraine or sinus infection. I explained the vision loss, the family history of brain tumors, the vast amount of antibiotics I'd taken.    Yet, all he did was give me a migraine shot (which failed to have any effect).  Then he gave me 2 anti-inflammatory drugs, phenegren, and pain relievers.  He told John my sinuses were swelling and putting pressure on my brain.

November 16, 2012 I went to my regular doctor who prescribed more antibiotics, steroids, and pain pills.   Pain pills didn't put a dent in my head pain.

November 17, 2012 Returned to regular doctor, demanded stronger pain pills and basically felt like a drug seeker.   At this point, I was done with the doctors here.

November 25th, 2012 After my head hurting throughout my trip to Atlanta to visit the family, I had my mom take me to Henry Medical Center.  After 2 hours, they did a scan and came back with the news that there was a grey area on my brain.  I was immediately transferred to Piedmont via ambulance.

The morning of November 27th, 2012 Dr. Chandler performed Brain Surgery to remove the tumor (did a stellar job!  didn't even have to shave my hair).

But then the news came in, the tumor in my brain came from my lung.   This meant I had Stage IV Non Small Cell Lung Cancer.  It was followed by, "this is not curable, but can be treated".  Of course, I wanted to know how much time I had left.   The response, "based on what we know now, and everyone is different, my best guess is 12-18 months".

What?  Why?  I've been through all of the stages of grief at this point.   I think Anger was the worst.  It wasn't fair.  I'm too young.  I have a little girl that needs me.  At most points now, when I reflect and talk to God, I get an overwhelming sense of peace and love.  These are the things that get me through the day.

I've decided to fight like hell to beat the odds, with the help of our Lord of course.  I can't do this alone.  But, I did promise Karley I will never give up.  It was the hardest conversation I've ever had, because I couldn't promise her I would make it.  I don't break promises.

I will post some more catch up later this week.  I'm pretty tired from these anti-seizure meds....but will continue to keep everyone up to date through this blog.

But before I go, I just want to thank the Lord and all of my friends in Atlanta (John, Reggie, Brad, Sam, Amanda, Mandy, Sonja, Patrick & Lil Sis, Mom, Dad, Stephen, Terri, Laura, Deborah, Kerri, Kenneth, and Lynn) for not leaving me alone for a minute during the hardest moments of my life, and my boss Joe who I know is going out of his way to try and get me the best treatment even though he has so much going on himself.   I'm genuinely blessed to have all of you and forgive me if I forgot anyone, I'm still not 100%.
I am blessed to know that I may not have a lot of time left, now I can make the most of it!