Monday, July 31, 2017

I Will See You On The Other Side

So, most of you in the lung cancer community know that Joan Fong went home Saturday.  I love Joan and Ron.  I am a Christian, and I'm far from perfect, but they were the first at the LUNGevity Hope Summit this year to praise me for giving so much credit for my survival to God during Lisa and my panel.  They told me it took courage.  It felt good to hear that.  After Molly's passing, I was very upset (my last blog) and was questioning why I'm still here.  Why do I get to stay?  Why are some of us here while others are gone?  It gets depressing when you're losing someone you know nearly every week.  But as I was crying and questioning these things, my phone beeped and there was a message on my Team Samantha Mixon page.  I asked if I could share with all of you and she said it was okay.   This woman is a gift from God.  She came to me when I needed to hear this the most.  I keep rereading it for inspiration.

This is what came through.  I know it's long, but I seriously cried while reading it.  It gave me so much encouragement and inspiration.  I do wish I could've met her daughter.  Thank you Ann for giving me encouragement at the precise moment I needed it:

"Dear Samantha...I have put this message off for almost 5 years now. It wasn't that I thought you were going anywhere; the fact is, I didn't know how to respond. What follows will show you what an unbelievable statement that is.
My name is Ann Tackett, mother/caregiver to Allison Tackett, our precious 26yo daughter we buried the day before thanksgiving 2012. She also had lung cancer ( adenocarcinoma, non-small cell). During the after-shocks of her life, I have followed you all this time, praying for every need or concern, peace and comfort for you and your family...I prayed for God to show you why you are the chosen one to live with this horrible disease and still try to make a normal life for you and your family. I never saw, until your last post about Roy, why perhaps that you are the PERFECT one; the ONE to get the job done that needs doing. YOU !
As our cancer diagnosis and prognosis is handed to us, we all go through the normal emotions and after effects that are usually textbook. I did, our daughter did. But what I see in your blogs now, is that you've "been forced" to join the "cancer club" and to add insult to injury, looks like you've been appointed President by default... you've outlived (mostly) everyone you've ministered to and loved on through their journey. You've had your heart broken so many times. No human should have to go through what you've seen and lived with all the folks you've had the opportunity to work with.
But, from my semi-objective view, I don't see your situation as defined by that stupid cancer, or by all the atrocities it brings...
I see an earthly angel; one who people can count on to hold their hand, wipe the sweat off their heads, take them to the hospital, or pray for them. It appears to me that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing...loving, giving, caring, and hopefully receiving the blessing of our Lord in your own heart. Thank you sweet girl, earthly human angel. I wish my daughter had had a friend such as you when she went through her cancer. You would've loved her. You can see her Facebook under Allison Tackett...we have placed it "In Remembrance Of".
Well, I thought it was time to tell you I have lived your graces, your pain, your blessings, and your family through your blogs...I have loved them, as you have always been frank and candid. That was always ok with me...unless one lives through cancer and its effects, there is no room for judgement of any kind. I see a person who puts others ahead of herself and loves unconditionally. Your family must be so proud to call you wife and mama.
Thank you for believing in the good of mankind...even in your lowest of times and health. I believe in you and your mission. Please continue to post; you never know who you may be touching...or even changing their current or eternal life.
God bless you sweet angel.❤️
Ann Aspinwall Tackett"

Thank you all for your continuous prayers and please pray for the Fongs.  I can't wait for that pasta party, as Karley would say. I always add pics, so here are a few of Myrtle Beach and the mountains.  It's good to be home.   I hope her message resonates with some of you long term survivors out there.  It is not the life for the weak...Rest in Paradise Joan, you are a true testimony to God.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Other Side

I arrived in California Monday to work on a project with the Bonnie J Addario team.  We had never met in reality, just social media.  Her organization is amazing, she's so sweet and dedicated and Samantha, on her team, is so trendy.  I love her taste in clothes.  I can tell how dedicated Bonnie is to advocating for lung cancer, despite the many obstacles facing all of us.  I was also able to attend my first Living Room session but got a little sick so had to leave.  I saw so many of my friends from the community.  Ron and Joan Fong were able to attend.  She isn't doing well and told me she was going to hospice.  She seemed okay with that.  Ron and Joan have a very strong relationship with the Lord.  They left before I did, and when I messaged Ron to tell him "I didn't get to say goodbye", he messaged back, "Joan said she'll see you on the other side".  Talk about reality slapping you in the face.  It is so very sad, but I know she will be free of all of this, and for that I praise God.

 I hated leaving the Living Room early so early.  The doctor I found out I had strep so I got some amoxicillin and just finished my last dose.  I was so sick the first few days out there.

While planning the trip, Molly Golbon passed away from the same mutation that I have.  Her husband, Arash, and I have been friends since Molly's diagnosis.  We thought Molly would respond to treatment like I did.  But every cancer is different.  And unfortunately, she didn't.  When I learned of her passing, the Addario foundation extended my return to Friday (yesterday) so I could see some of my friends including Arash and of course Lisa Goldman.

Everyone is still mourning Molly, I was able to play with the girls while Arash was able to get some things taken care of.  I fell in love with those two girls, Madison and Dillan.  I can totally see Madison and I as partners in crime.  And Dillan is just a ball of energy, laughter, and joy.

Arash and I thought we would go out to a local bar but the girls wanted him back so we weren't gone long.  Most of our time was spent at the Golbon's house.  It breaks my heart those sweet girls have to go through so much at such a young age and Arash become a single father.  He's doing a fabulous job.  It's hard for parents when one is lost forever.  We tend to spoil them out of guilt.  I totally did that with Karley when I was diagnosed.  But, they need spoiling for a little bit.  These children shouldn't have had to lose their mommy.

Arash is stressed and so sad, but I know our lung cancer community will rally around him and his family during this difficult time.  I just wish we all lived closer.  

And we tried to eat meat every night in honor of Lisa Goldman, who in turn made me taste one of those nasty drinks.  Madison spit it out.  She knows, we have good taste!

Anyways, I hope to visit with all of them again, as well as everyone at the Addario Foundation.  It would be great to have network like that here.  But, I know I always have people in my corner, even if they aren't down the street.  

Thank you all for your continuous prayers and please pray for the Fongs and Golbons right now.  I tried to bring a little bit of my southern craziness and silliness to the Golbon home.  They are coping the best way they know how.  

Below are some pics from the trip.  Now, I need to pack because I'm leaving again tomorrow for another week.  My bed is really upset with me for doing this to it but I totally promised I would make up for it when I get back.  God Bless

Bonnie J. Addario

Arash Golbon and Samantha Cummis

Joan and Ron Fong

The Addario Living Room

Eating meat for Lisa

Tried to all fit in so have 5 chins

Love this little one

Totally kidding, she hates it

Lisa Goldman

Partners in crime

Just Dance turned into "Jump on Sam", a new game

Friday, July 14, 2017

One Year

So things have changed a lot in the past year.  I've met some incredible people and our Goddaughter just relocated here.  Which means I get to see more of my best friend (because she misses her daughter).  But, I'll take it.  Karley has gone to several camps, we went to NYC for Christmas, and I got a new car.

My world kept going.  I didn't think it would, but it did.  For those of you who are just beginning to read my blog, this is the one year anniversary of Roy Reynolds untimely death.  Roy had leukemia, he was younger than me, and I swore he would outlive me.  He was my Robertson aka Data.  For those of you who attended my wedding, he rocked the bar.  He never expected to be paid for it either. He was like that, but I made him take money.

When he was first diagnosed, his sister, Renesha called me to the hospital.  I was dealing with my own cancer and she thought we would be able to relate to each other.  And we did.  One thing about Roy, he was so stubborn.  He refused to believe he would have cancer the rest of his life.  I knew it was just a part of the grieving process since I had gone through it myself.

Each day I went and visited with him while he was in the hospital and they worked to get his WBC count down enough to go home.  We would talk about life with cancer, and how it's possible to have one.  It's just different.  It's a new normal.  He wasn't going to be able to do everything he had always done and would get tired easily once starting his targeted therapy.

After he was diagnosed, he moved in across the street from us.  It was nice to have him there.  Not only had we worked together and were friends, but now we were neighbors.

The events that took place that day, I will never forget.  They are scarred into my memory for life and I still see them when I sleep.  There are some things that will remain with you forever.  This is one of them.

Renesha called for me to go check on him because he wasn't answering his phone July 13th.  After not responding to my knocking, I let myself in with the extra key.  I found him in his room, sleeping but it was incredibly cold.  He was sweating so much and when I woke him he told me he was in a lot of pain.  I called Renesha as I helped him to the car.  We were going to the hospital.

The hospital did not admit him although he had just been the day before with an incredibly high WBC count.  At this point, his gums were bleeding and his nose was bleeding.  He was bleeding.  The ER would not admit him despite our concerns and disagreements.  Renesha, Roy, and I all pleaded for him to be admitted but to no avail.   After giving him pain meds, they released him back to us.

I took him home, Renesha got his meds filled.  Roy and I stopped by Wendys, we were starving.  He tried to pay, because that's how he was.  He hated people doing stuff for him.  But, I wouldn't let him.

I dropped him off at his house after Wendys, told him I loved him and to call if he needed me.  He said he loved me too and okay.  Those were the last words we ever said to each other.

Later that evening, around 6 pm, I had been running errands and his friend Amp was standing on the porch of Roy's house as Renesha was calling me.  Roy wouldn't wake up.  I ran over to the house.  He was snoring but wouldn't wake.  He had so much sweat and had barely touched the food I gave him.  Amp dialed 911 as I laid a pillow under his head and placed it in my lap and stroked it, telling him everything was going to be okay and continued shouting his name.  Finally, he opened his eyes, looking bewildered, but then I saw the look of recognition and he went back to sleep.  Forever.

He suffered a stroke that day.  I can remember the doctors telling us it was critical and they were flying him to Savannah.  I had his change of clothes and phone in my car as I drove to Savannah Memorial.  His phone kept ringing.  It was driving me nuts.  I couldn't answer.  I didn't know what to say, but I had a feeling already that it wasn't going to be good.

Later in the afternoon on the 14th, the family decided to take him off of life support.  The doctor showed his sister and I his brain scans.  We could see the damage that had already been done.  There was no coming back.  We all knew it.

So now, Renesha goes on without her best friend and brother.  A family goes on without their only brother.  I can't imagine how incredibly hard it has been.  He was too young.  It was too sudden.  We didn't have a chance to say goodbye.

When cleaning out his house, I got the comforter I gave him and placed in a plastic container so I could still smell him when I wanted.  I fell into a deep depression.  But, one thing about Roy, he wouldn't want that.  He would want us all to be living it up while we can, cause he did.  His stories were so funny.  He lived each day to the fullest.  And his smile, well, his smile could light up a room on it's own.

So, Roy, I miss you so very much and I'll always have that hole in my heart that can never be filled for Robertson.  I love you so much too.  I miss our talks and our bitching about cancer.  But you are in no more pain, sorrow, and are cancer free.  And for that, I'm thankful.  I'm just selfish because I miss you and want you here.  I'll always love you.  The hole will always be there. And we will have quite the pasta party when I see you again.  Maybe even play a little pool and I'll beat you again.

Thank you for your continuous prayers and please pray for Roy's family and friends on this day.  They've experienced all the firsts without him now.  Holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc.  I know how hard it is on me, so for them, I really can't imagine.  

Rest in Paradise my friend.