Thursday, February 25, 2016

Catching up...WARNING - TMI for some men

It's been quite a while since my last post.  I was blessed to be interviewed by Family Circle Magazine, so pick up your March issue!  I have included some pictures below that were not included in the article.  If you want to know what it's about, you have to read it!

The countdown is on and when you probably read this, I will have 22 days remaining until our wedding.  Am I prepared?  Not in the least bit.  It's not the getting married part, it's the planning part.  I'm such a procrastinator.  It's not all my fault though.  I haven't been worried about it, it will fall into place.  There are more important things in life, like living.

Ok, so a little cancer talk since that's what this blog is all about.  Guys....ear muffs.

I've been having "women issues" uncontrollably since 2014.  I've seen doctors about them, everyone seemed to brush them off as not a big deal.  Well, since the beginning of January it got worse and would not stop, I felt like I was hemorrhaging.  I couldn't take it anymore.  It's been affecting my quality of life as I have no motivation to do anything but sleep.  No one could tell me an answer as to why or give me a solution.

I finally contacted an oncologist I met through Baptist in Jacksonville (a woman thank goodness...no offense guys still reading, but you have no idea).  She immediately got me in the next day (Tuesday) with a gynecologist  (also a woman).  I was prescribed two medications to try to alleviate this situation.  She rocked.  I mean, she was immediately in contact with the oncologist at Baptist and in Atlanta making sure either of the meds would not interfere with my targeted therapy. She ordered an ultrasound and I go in tomorrow for bloodwork.  She already has a plan B.  I love her.  I've had all of my medical records sent to her now.  We are wondering if it's some side effect of the targeted therapy that isn't mentioned because not a lot of young people get lung cancer...maybe we are breaking some kind of new ground here.  Or, I just have excellent luck.  Probably the latter.

So, hopefully soon, I can feel as normal as I can possibly feel while living with lung cancer.  Ear muffs off.

One thing I did want to drive home in this brief, TMI blog, is that just because I look a certain way, or am able to run around and act normal, does not mean I'm done with lung cancer.  I will never be done with lung cancer.  One of the guys at work, love him to death, thought I was in remission and had beaten it.  Thing is, I'll always have this mutation and the key is to live with it, keep it under control.  I'll be tired, my meds are increasing, but I'm alive.  And right now, that's what is most important.  I'm truly blessed that Brent knows all of this about me and loves me enough to still want to marry me.  Cancer can take a wack at your self esteem, no doubt.

Well, I'm off to sleep some more.  Blood work and wedding planning tomorrow, oh joy!  Seriously, I'm not good at this wedding planning thing and wish someone would just do it all for me (I hope my Ocean Lodge friends are reading...I just pulled the card!)

Thank you all for your continuous prayers, they mean so much.  And please pray for Ansley Jones, who relapsed with her leukemia and my friend Roy, who is so hard-headed, but is doing much better with his leukemia meds.  Finally, please pray for Carmen Frye.  Her cancer is giving her a hard time right now and she needs them.  I'm sorry if I left anyone out, I'm exhausted.

Our preacher said something in church Sunday that resonated so much with me it brought tears to my eyes.  It was the second line in a sermon about Jesus and the three men cast into the fire.  The line he said was to the effect of "some people have to go through the fire with God".  Not around it or over it, but through it.  But when they come out of the other side, they say they wouldn't have changed a thing.  Because in that moment, it changed their life forever and they were never the same.  My eyes swelled up with tears.  It described me perfectly.  I am not the same, nor will I ever be again.  I don't want to ever be the person I was before.  And I'll always know I'm not alone.

Oh yeah, Karley's foot is better!  No surgery!  Thank you God!   And God bless you all!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

World Cancer Day - The Silver Lining

Today is World Cancer Day.....

Well, I'm on my way into year 4 as a member of this club.  Let me say, I thank God for that.  I've been blessed to have tarceva still working on my lung cancer and for the many docs who have fought for my treatment.

The cancer club is not the club you want a membership card too.  Although, I do have an actual physical cancer card...I try to make light of something so horrible.  I think it scares some people or puts some at ease.  I'm not sure, I'm not sure I care either.  It puts me at ease.

Though cancer SUCKS, there are two silver linings.

1.  The appreciation of life.

I'm like, "ok God, maybe we went overboard on opening my eyes" sometimes when I think about it.  But I was not appreciating life and the beauty that surrounds me.  I was a workaholic.  I never stopped to "smell the roses".  I used to just walk right past them, not even noticing.  Now, I cherish the sunset over the ocean.  During the summer, I love to go to the beach every weekend and just breathe it in.  The smell, the sounds, the children playing, the life.  (I know mom and docs, not supposed to be in the sun, I take an umbrella, my tan is just from the walk).  I love my daughter so much, I get a little over protective and let her get away with a little too much.(that's a drawback but when I think of her suffering, I can't help it).

2.  The friends I've made or have grown closer to.

I have made some wonderful friends (cancer patients and caregivers) I may not have otherwise known existed had I not joined this club.  I can't name them all in the lung cancer community but I'll try: Shermaine Lee, Rico Lee,  Paul Kalanithi, Lucy Kalanithi, Chris Draft, Lisa Goldman, Tori Tomalia, Arash Golbon, Molly Golbon, Dan and Rebecca Powell, Kelly Kayuk, Janet Freeman Daily, Debbie Pouncey McGettigan, Karla Southerland, Karen Parks Odell, Katie Dewey-Brown, Jill Feldman, Emily Bennett Taylor, Bonnie Addario, Corey Wood, Kimberly Stratham Ringen, Courtney Kyte, Don Stranathan, Craig Blower, Deana Hendrickson, Betsy Thompson, Denise Cutlip, Linnea Olson, Anita Figueras, Dann Wonser, Kristen Carlton, Roz York Brodsky, Lynn Jakobowski, Dusty Donaldson, Kelly Shannon, Matt Ellefson, Deb Bauer, Peggy Fogarty, Melissa Crouse, Lysa Buonanno, Mr. and Mrs. Stoner, Cliff Norton, "Good Morning" Jon- my first friend in the LC Community.... ok....I can't remember all the names, but look at this list!  These are just through the lung cancer community.  All of these people have made such an impact on my life through their stories of hope and some have really hit home when passing away from this awful disease, I'm not immortal.  My time will come, as will all of ours.  I just hope to follow in the massive footsteps they left behind.

I've also become closer to some that have/had other cancers and their caregivers: Gretchen and Matt Anderson, Carmen Frye, Roy Reynolds (better take those pills), Marjorie Polk, Maddie Briscoe, Ansley Jones, Chris, Cassie, and Chaseman, Brad and Barbara Graves, Cheri Burgner, Dylan Rosier and sweet Alexa and Katie.  We all have had different cancers, but we are all a member of the same club.  The club no one wants to join.  The club that should really no longer be in existence right now!  Once again, some are gone.  But there is a bond we all share, regardless of the type of cancer we have or had.  Cancer is on track to take over heart disease as the nation's leading cause of death.

So, in honor of World Cancer Day, just let me say it's been such a humbling experience and if I could change things, I'm not sure I would.  Collectively, these people and this cancer have made me who I am today.  This experience brought me closer to God, my family closer to God, and without it, I doubt I would be getting married next month because I would still be on the third floor of that condo and would not have met Brent.  God has a plan for all of us.  I am so happy, regardless of everything, with my life, in this very moment.  My life has been a good one and I have been so blessed.  I may sleep more, my hair kinda sucks, and I'm not as financially well off...but those things don't matter.  What matters is the fact I'm around the people I love and I could not ask for more, except maybe a cure now.  Like I said, I wouldn't change things thus far.  But going forward, a cure or long term treatment (like decades and decades worth) would be amazing, for all cancers!

My eyes are open now.  I was blind but now I see.  And I will continue to keep my faith.  Happy World Cancer Day (not sure it's appropriate to say that but wasn't sure what to say...) and to those who have left us, know you have never left our hearts.  Until we meet again, know we love you and we hope you're listening when we talk to you sometimes.

Thank you all for your continuous prayers and support.  They mean the world to my family, friends, and me.

Now...how about that cure?

UPDATE:  When reviewing my traffic sources, someone googled, "Dr. Paul Kalanithi cause of lung cancer" to get to my blog.  Let me just go ahead and answer that for them.  ANYONE with lungs can get lung cancer.  Sometimes the cause is unknown.  So look for a cause all you want...you will not find anything but the EGFR mutation.  #education

Also, my grammar nazi sister told me I had a bunch of mistakes in here.  I tried to correct most of them.  But, it's hard to write after the ambien dose. Thanks Brooke!