Friday, December 19, 2014

Why me?

A little over 2 years ago, I was given the hope of living 12-18 months.  I thought, "why me Lord?  I have a little girl to raise?"  But the real question, why not me?  He told us we would have trouble in this life, but not to worry, for He has overcome.

Later into my diagnosis, I began reading inspirational material through Sarah Young and attending church more frequently.  I wanted more than anything to know His plan for my life.  I also started blogging in an effort to avoid crying so much.  People could read that and I wouldn't have to answer questions.

After almost a year I quit asking "why me?" and became grateful that I know.   I know I may not have much time left on this earth.  Knowing that is a gift in itself.  You see, I could get into an accident tomorrow and not survive.  But that didn't happen.  I was given a warning, not the ticket.

So what good has come out of this?  My daughter is saved.  My 9 year old knows that dying in this life is only the beginning of our eternal life.  She knows it will be hard, but she knows the ones that go before us are in a better place with no suffering, or tears, or pain.

I began writing more about my God into blogs that are followed by people all over the world.  There is even an Italian Healthcare facility that reshares every post I make on my Facebook account.  I always google translate to see what they say.  It's legit.

So, I'm sure there are more good things but it's 2 am and I couldn't sleep so decided to write.  I've been blessed this year beyond belief by The Lord, strangers and by the great people of St Simons Community Church.  When they offered to help me this Christmas season, I thought "why me?"   David Yarborough and Deb Kay had to convince me otherwise.   And boy did I cry, good tears.

I didn't realize I had anything to give back, but I do.  It may not be monetary, but it can be spiritually. I had no idea how I was going to make it financially anymore.  I tried not to worry because I'm still here, but my expenses were outweighing my income.   The church saved me from total financial ruin through the power of Christ.  To all of you that gave this season, thank you.  Thank you for helping me breathe and be able to focus on these precious moments I have with my little girl.  I don't think I could ever put into words the gratitude I have.  You've brought me closer to Him once again.  When I was down, He lifted me up through all of you.  God bless each of you.

Sorry for any grammatical errors.  It's late but I couldn't sleep one more night without thanking the church and other anonymous people who have so graciously helped us this year.  We are truly blessed.  Thank you all for your continuous prayers and we are praying for our friend Lynn McDonough and Karley's friend Alexa.  Please pray for them too.  Your prayers work wonders.

Thank you Lord.  And Merry Christmas to you all.

Matthew 14:31
Immediately Jesus reached out and caught him.  "You of little faith", he said, "why did you doubt?"

Friday, December 12, 2014

Results 12/12/14

We just finished up with my oncologist.  My scans are still stable!  Yay!  We are extremely happy about this, even as we sit in Atlanta traffic.   Thank you for all of your prayers and thank you God for answering them!

We discussed the vertigo I had in October that led to my reduction in tarceva.  My oncologist wants me to now see a neurologist because I may have something going on non-cancer related.  It's hard for us cancer patients to think that anything could be wrong that's not cancer.  So, that took me a moment to think about.  He also wants to increase my dosage again if we get an all clear from the neurologist.

I will try to get an appointment for that over the Christmas holidays.  I haven't had a vertigo spell since the reduction but he's convinced it's not the tarceva.  More doctors!

Anyways, I'm not complaining.  As long as things are stable, we are good.  I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and I'll keep updating as anything happens.   Thank you again for your continuous prayers and God bless!

2 Corinthians 5:7
"We live by faith, not by sight."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

3 Days

Only 3 more days until I get and find out my latest PET scan.  I'm somewhat nervous because my tarceva dosage was lowered.  I have very few people where I live now that I can truly sit down and talk too about everything.  I'm so thankful for the people I do have and for God.  I try to give my worry to Him.  It's hard to be brave in front of Karley sometimes.  These scans are so irritating.  I used to not worry, but I'm 2 years in and now 3 days until, and I'm worried about something beyond my control.

Anyways.  Enough about worry.  Chris Draft was fabulous this past Sunday and took Karley, Stephen, and I to the Jaguars game.  It was so much fun. Cold and rainy and we lost, but we had a blast.  I thank God for these 3 people that went with me.  They are amazing.

If you want to donate to a good lung cancer cause, donate to www.teamdraft.org

Thank you for all of your continuous prayers and please pray for good scans this Friday.  I feel like I really need your prayers right now.  God bless you all!

1 Corinthians 12:4-8

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Last Day

As everyone knows, today is the last day of November.  It's also the last day of lung cancer awareness month.  It was such a crazy month and I live so far away, it's hard to do too much for it....especially with Karley.  I noticed some great strides, but also noticed the continuous lack of national media coverage.  In fact, I can barely watch the national media because of all of the madness and hate right now.  It's tough, because some of us just want to live.  I don't want to debate.  I just want to live a happy life, spend time with my family and friends.  The national media is focused so much on some very important issues, but they also have the power to spin things and have the power to help things from getting out of control.  I don't understand all of the hate.  It makes me sad for all of us and scares me for the future.

I feel like it's dividing people when we should be coming together.  In the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that".  "I have decided to stick to love...hate is to great a burden to bear."  It's 2014 people.  Let's come together to solve issues that don't belong in 1952.  Hey...maybe a cure for cancer and other diseases. Something always makes the media over this disease that KILLS 3,000 Americans each WEEK.  I'm not trying to be insensitive.  This was a no win situation for all parties and my prayers go out to all of the families involved.  Everyone has their opinions.....It's time to love and forgive as God forgives us every day.  "Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fortunately, I was able to make the almost 9 hour drive to visit my sister, brother in law, parents, and new niece in NC for Thanksgiving thanks to the gracious hospitality of Sharyn Outtrim.  I met Sharyn at a Falcons game with Team Draft.  She was so kind to offer us her beach house on the Emerald Isles to be close to my sis and brother in law stationed at Camp Lejeune.  It was such a blessing to have met her and her offer us such a wonderful Thanksgiving gift.  It gives me faith in our humanity that there are still people like her and Chris Draft out there.

Anyways, it was great to be together with my family.  We had so much fun and Karley is a great cousin already.  Future babysitter in the making....

Below are some pictures of the house and our family.  I hope all of your Thanksgivings were great.  Thank you so much for your continuous prayers and please keep them coming.  My next scans are December 12th so will probably not post until then unless something happens.

Please pray for our nation right now too.  I know that sounds cliche, but as a parent, it's very worrisome.  I'm not raising my child to have hate in her heart.  I'm raising her to have God in her heart.  In the meantime, prayers the tarceva is still working!

2 Corinthians 4:15-16
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the Glory of God. 16. Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving marks my 2 year cancerversary!

Two years ago tomorrow (11/27/12) I heard the words that changed my life forever.  "You have stage 4 lung cancer.  There is no cure".  Of course I asked how long I had (never do that).  The response, "as I see it right now, I would give you 12-18 months".

I had just turned 33.  I was in shock and disbelief.  How could this happen to me?  I have a daughter to raise.  I'm going to miss everything.  I'll miss her first date, prom, graduation, wedding, grandchildren.  This is not how my life was supposed to go.  But, it is what it is.  I have my good and bad days but am thankful for each day I wake up.

It's lung cancer awareness month too.  I didn't know that, well until I became a person with lung cancer.   There have been some great strides in our two years of dealing with this, but  we still have a long way to go to get the attention for funding for more research.   I want to see my daughter go on her first date, prom, graduation, wedding, and have grandchildren.   I may not get there, but I will not give up hope or stop fighting!

Today I got to meet my first niece.  She is beautiful.  I'm so happy for my sister and brother in law.  I'm so happy I've been able to make it here for these memory building moments.  I'm going to sign off now and just thank God for all of my blessings.  I'm still here and so very happy!   God bless you all and Happy Thanksgiving!  And thank you for all of your continuos prayers.  They do mean so much.  Thank you God for giving me this time!

1 Thessalonians 5:18
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cancer Sucks...

Everyone knows this.  But not everyone knows what it's like to live with it.  You try to base decisions for your future thinking everything will be okay.  Really, whether you admit it or not, in the back of your mind, you don't know how far to plan.  Do you plan for 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, 1 month?  Of course this should be how everyone thinks, but we all know it's not.  Until you're faced with something that wants to kill you every day, do you really have any idea what it feels like?  And is every little ache and pain more cancer?  This is how I think now.  This is how I will think forever.

I know the statistics are ever changing, and to not look at them.  It's hard not too.  Stage 4 cancer is stage 4 cancer, and your odds aren't great.  Lung is the largest killer, but I'm not going to harp on that, even though it's Lung Cancer Awareness Month and this cancer is grossly underfunded.

Instead, I'm trying to figure out how far I want to try and plan my future.  I'm so sick and tired of the wait game of "every 3 months to see if it's still stable or spread".  Of course everyone says, "live in the moment" which I do for the most part, but living in the moment doesn't get you far if you're going to be around for a while.  But am I?  I've always been a planner, and the past two years have been a nightmare that I know is never going to end.

And to be quite honest, I'm scared.  After my last incident in October, I realized that I don't have much family here (blood related that is).  I am not sure all of the choices I've made and I'm going to make are the right ones for Karley and me.  I can only trust in God to give me peace with my decisions.  Miss Independent is forever gone and I don't recognize this person that's replaced her.  I'm not sure I even like her that much because she doesn't just depend on God, she's become too dependent on other people.  That has never been me.  It's getting to me lately, a lot.  I no longer feel like I have my own life.  I don't know how to put into words how much this disease has changed me, some ways it has been a good change and some ways bad.

Money is always tight and I'm tired of fighting insurance companies.  Oh, and I got my new estimated premium for mine and Karley's insurance, which quadrupled.  I can't even afford all of my bills now!  How am I ever going to afford this too?

Thank you all for your continuous prayers and listening to my petty ranting and pity party I'm throwing over here.   I haven't posted as much as I should for Lung Cancer Awareness Month because I have been in a funk.  All of these little galas take place on the West Coast and North East and survivors get to meet and have so much fun, but if you live far away, you don't hear about them or they don't exist.  Plus, I'm struggling to pay for everyday necessities.  I only wish I had the financial ability to do things like this.  So, it's disheartening.  I'll be better next blog, so please don't think I'm all depressed.  I mean, I have drugs for that people!

If you really want to give to lung cancer, go to your local cancer research institute and ask them how to donate to lung cancer.   That way you know it's going to research instead of a non-profit CEO's bank account.

Finally, please pray for Tina Roberts and family.  John Roberts recently passed away.  He was one of the first people to talk to me about this terrible new normal and lead me to different social media outlets to meet others.  RIP John, our "good morning man".  Also, please pray for my friend Amanda and her family.  She's lost someone very close to her and is continuing to struggle to help another (due to a car accident).  And pray for Molly Golbon, she is my carbon copy warrior on the West Coast.  Her husband Arash keeps me informed on her condition.

And one last thing, before writing this blog, I saw that Diem Brown passed away at 34 to cancer.  For those of you who don't know this person, she was a reality TV star on MTV's the Challenge.  She began fighting cancer at 23.  It came back for a 3rd time in her stomach and colon and finally took her too soon this morning.  I watched her on these challenges, each time thinking how amazing she was for overcoming the cancer every time it came back.  Maybe that's why I'm a little sad and scared today.  She was the picture of health and cancer took her at 34.

Cancer will always be with me.  It sucks.  I hate it so much for those who have lost loved ones and those that continue to fight.

The verse I leave you with is one for those, like me, who are somewhat lost in this world.  Not knowing what to do.  I have to remind myself of this quite often.  Today is one of those days.  I also threw in some photos.  The first being our annual Thanksgiving Feast at Karley's school, the next two are from the fair last week, and the last is just one I came across online that everyone should see.  Until next time, God bless you all, and thank you for your prayers.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I'm Still Here...November

Monday this week, I got out of the shower and got terribly dizzy.  So much so, that I vomited on my couch, in the kitchen, and finally the bathroom before collapsing.  I was home alone.  Karley was at school (which I'm grateful for).  I managed to close one eye and see my phone with the other.  I called Karleys dad to come help me.  He arrived within 10 minutes and called 911 for me.

I live on the third floor of a condo.  This isn't easy for paramedics.  They tried to get me to sit in a chair to carry me to the ambulance but that just made me vomit more.  Finally, John just carried me down the 3 flights of stairs to the ambulance.  He had to pick Karley up, and we didn't want to scare her so decided not to tell her what was going on.   Did I mention I only had a robe on?  How embarrassing!  

Once in the ambulance, the paramedic tried to start an IV.  I know my veins pretty well now so tried to tell him the size to use.  He didn't listen and blew a vein and never could get it started.  Additionally, there was no air.  After being so sick, I needed air.  

Stephen met me at the hospital and we were there for 9 hours.  After an EKG, CT scan, and ultrasound, it was decided that I had vertigo from the chemo pills.  I literally couldn't walk.  It was terrifying and not something I ever want to experience again. My oncologist and I have decided to reduce my dosage.  I've been on the highest dosage for nearly 2 years.  I guess my body is tired of it.  

After some great pain meds and more meds for dizziness and nausea, I was discharged.  The vertigo was  better but did last another day.  Luckily I had the meds.  Stephen helped out so much and my mom drove down to help out too.  I'm feeling much better now but my voice is still not back to normal. We had our couch professionally cleaned and told Karley I had a stomach virus.  No point in making her think the cancer had anything to do with the whole incident.  

I'm grateful to have such a great support system.  Thank you all for your continuous prayers and support.  They mean so much.  Yesterday was my birthday and I am eternally thankful that I was able to celebrate another one.  In the beginning, I didn't think it was possible.  Now I know, with Him, all things are possible.  

Yesterday was also Halloween so I'll throw in some pictures before I finish. 

Today is an important day.  It is officially Lung Cancer Awareness month.  Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women. With a mere 15% 5 year survival rate (for all stages), it's past time we get this cancer the funding it so badly needs.  I'll be posting more blogs this month.  Not only because it's Lung Cancer Awareness month, but because Thanksgiving marks my 2 year cancerversary!  And there is no doubt that I'm thankful.  

Please keep our family in your prayers.  Also, please pray for our dear friends Tina and Jon Roberts and the family of my best friend, Amanda Davis.  Thank you all so much and God Bless!

1 Thessalonians 5:18
"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"

Friday, October 24, 2014

Learning to Fly

Lately, every time I go to a restaurant or other establishment, I hear this song by Tom Petty written in 1991.  I always loved the song, but now, it has a whole new meaning.  The thing about music is that in can be interpreted any way you want.  In the beginning, I always thought this song was more about drugs.   Now, it has a whole new meaning.  I'll put the lyrics and a link to the video below.  It's the lyrics that have hit so close to home.

"Learning To Fly"

Well I started out down a dirty road
Started out all alone
And the sun went down as I crossed the hill
And the town lit up, the world got still

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Well the good ol' days may not return
And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn


Well some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I've started out for God knows where
I guess I'll know when I get there

I'm learning to fly, around the clouds
But what goes up must come down


So, as you can see, I think every cancer patient can relate.  We all started out down a dirty road and thought we were alone.  We have to relearn how to live, a different way.  "But the good ole days, may not return", means our lives have been changed forever.  We don't necessarily have the same opportunities we used to, but we don't we have to stay down.  We can "learn to fly, around the clouds".  We can learn to live with this illness we have, and still be happy.  

"Well some say life will beat you down, Break your heart, steal your crown".  No kidding!  This song to me is about losing a life we can never get back.   But we learn to deal with it.   We get back up, and we keep going.  It's about acceptance of our situation, no matter what it is.  I think Tom Petty is pretty much a genius, regardless of what the original meaning of the song is.  It's one of my all time favorites.  Just had to share.  I hope we can all Learn to Fly, even if we don't have wings...

God bless!  

Ecclesiastes 3:1
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

More Results, I'm an Aunt, and all things good

So much to get out without boring you all.  So, first things first.

Karley got her blue belt at The Brick.  We were so very proud.  She also got one B and all As on her progress report.  She couldn't be doing better.  She's overcome so much.  She still has a way to go, but she's come so far.  We thank God every day for watching over our little angel.

The next day my sister started  having contractions and I had to leave to go to Atlanta for some tests.  For the first time ever, my sister and I were in hospital beds at the same time, just in different states.  On 10/14/14, I became an aunt to such a sweet and beautiful little girl, Sarah Catherine Moore.   Congratulations to Patrick and Brook Moore.  We couldn't be happier!

I missed it because Brook delivered 3 weeks early and I had scheduled my appts earlier in the month to make it.  Murphy's Law.  My parents were in NC and unable to help through my appts this time.  Luckily, I was blessed to have Stephen and Amanda there.  It was rough.

But, the good news: my colonoscopy and annual MRI both came back clear!  Stephen and I got to have lunch with Jonathan and Robyn Hicks after my appointments on Wednesday.  Jonathan is also a Stage 4 Lung Cancer survivor and is working on a short indie film, Nirvana.  The film covers, from his personal experience, the emotions felt by a cancer patient in the beginning.  His wife, Robyn, is the main character.  They are great people!

We got back Thursday and yesterday was the fall festival at Oglethorpe Point Elementary.  We went with some friends and had a great time.

Now we are looking forward to tomorrow for the St. Baldrick's event at Ocean Lodge in honor of one of Karley's school mates, Alexa.  Go Team Alexa!  Karley will be selling wristbands. So, those in the St. Simons area, come on out to Ocean Lodge at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow.  It's for a good cause.  (I heard a few teachers will be shaving their heads!)

Donation link for Team Alexa

Thank you all for your continuous prayers and please don't stop.  They are working!   Please also pray for Alexa, my friend Molly who has upcoming scans, and Jon & Tina Roberts.  Jon has been so courageous as our "good morning" friend throughout this cancer journey.  I just hope he is resting well and do miss him.

Isaiah 41:10
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand."