Friday, January 22, 2021

Catch up - And Scan results

I have seriously been neglecting my poor blog.  Between learning to walk again and the holidays, it's been non stop.  So....this is going to be a quick catch up.

I learned to walk again and by my birthday (Halloween), I was dressed in costume and house decorated so I could hand out to trick or treaters.  I never do this because I've always worked or had Karley.  But after my stroke, I felt like I had a new lease on life.  (Pic overload below)

I met someone I've been seeing since October.  He's pretty awesome and helped me out tremendously along with my mom in my stroke recovery.  I'm happy to say that I've regained all of walking skills and have totally recovered.  It didn't come without falls.  But it's going to take more to take out this cockroach DNA. (recovering pic below)

On 11/27/20 I celebrated my 8 year Cancerversary by eating pudding for breakfast and laying around all day.  2020 was a dumpster fire.  But my cockroach DNA is still thriving.  There are few reasons why and I'll mention them throughout.  

First, as soon as Halloween was over I put up Christmas decorations.  That's right.  November 1st.  My daughter just looked at me like I was crazy, as did her father.  It always drove him nuts when I decorated early.  Even Paul, the new guy I'm dating, probably thought I was a little crazy.  But at least my crazy didn't scare him off.  My only thought process was "I'll decorate for Christmas, that'll make everything better".  Yeah....it didn't.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the lights at Jekyll and our cozy little home all decorated, and always love celebrating Christ, but things were still bad.

So, I began selling all of my furniture and replacing it.  I've gotten so good at thrift shopping I actually made a profit!  If you saw my house before Thanksgiving of last year, it has TOTALLY changed.  I started with the couch.  I found a great one that didn't smell like cat urine at a thrift store.  The owner was amazing and walked around to show me all of the couches on facetime since I didn't want to risk it.  So, shout out to "Junk for your Trunk" thrift store in Brunswick!  And this is how my transformation began.

I love the Holderness family.  So when I watched the video of the things she's done, I felt like we were related.  My daughter has a new "vintage" bedroom suite with a queen bed now.  Our spare room is no longer an art room but an actual spare room with a full bed.  Any of my friends wanting to visit this summer, lets get vaccinated and covid tested and come stay with me for free!  The beach is a whole 4 miles from my house.  After redoing every room besides the kitchen of my house, I decided to declutter.  I sold so much furniture and so many electronics.  I currently have 5 full bags of clothes for a yard sale.  And the longer I stay home..the more decluttering will come.  It's like a want a new home and can't have one so decided to redo mine.  And I bought an old wii with some "Just Dance" games.  Great exercise after a stroke.  I'm back at 100% physically.  Mentally...it's never been 100%.  I've included the video from the holderness family below.  It's the one where Kim is my spirit animal.  I never realized until I saw it that I wasn't the only one going absolutely crazy.  And NYE didn't put that dumpster fire out.  It just kept burning.

I tried to stay away from the news.  I have enough on my plate.  And they say "ignorance is bliss".  There have been no truer words ever spoken.

Tuesday, my daughter took her driving test.  She is now a legal driver, with her own car.  My extended family helped me tremendously.  I'll have two small car payments for a while and quite a few medical bills.  But, I can only pay what I can pay.  I would've much rather been on a vacation for the price I'm paying back to the hospital for the stroke.  Could've toured Europe!

I feel so blessed that not only did I get to see my daughter pass her driving test, but I got to see her get in her car and smile excitedly and wave goodbye to me.  Of course I cried.  But they were tears of joy.  I never thought I would see this day much less ride with her during it.  I am just praising God tremendously.  My life isn't perfect.  It's a disaster.  But I know what's important and material possessions are not.  The love for my daughter cannot be described. It's everlasting, as is my love for Christ.

Lung cancer is severely underfunded.  So, a few members of our Lung Cancer Community are working on "The White Ribbon Project".  Its up to us to get the funding and make others aware.  I've attached a few of the pics we did.  Heidi and Pierre made this ribbon and so many more to send across the country.  Mine now resides in the cancer institute at Piedmont Hospital.

And finally, I'll wrap this up and promise to get back to posting more.  My scans yesterday showed no evidence of active cancer.  Just the same two dormant tumors.  We still have to find out why I'm having strokes, but the news to my family, friends, and myself couldn't have come at a better time.  It's like we are beginning to slowly awake from this crazy year.  Baby steps of course.

Thank you all for your continuous prayers.  Please pray for my dad, his friends, and so many of my friends.  Survivors guilt has really done a number on me mentally this year.  But, I know I need to keep going.  Showing my daughter to always pray and don't give up, even if you're told no the first time.  Keep trying.  Sometimes it pays off and God answers those prayers.

Thank you all for following my journey through this crazy thing called life.  You've all seen my family change and get older and that sweet 7 year old when I was diagnosed is driving now.  It's incredible.  God has a plan for us all.  Don't doubt that, it could lead you down a very dark path.  I'm prepared to handle what comes my way.  I have faith that He sees the big picture and everything happens for a reason.

God bless you all and I'll write more in a couple of weeks.   Mucho shorter next time!

Halloween - Up and walking (mostly) and decorations out

I fell quite a few times learning to walk again

of course this is where they would send me for a new neurologist

We miss you Kelly Kayuk

Christmas 2020

Lights at Jekyll

Yep, I rode in a Cinderella carriage 

Picture Day - White Ribbon

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has" - Margaret Mead

Scans Yesterday

My favorite Oncologist/Doctor ever!  Dr. William Jonas - He's been with me since Day 1

Karley turned 16 and is driving!

I love these girls all grew up together and are still so close.  Mine is the second tallest in the back.

Click above for the video I was referring too.  The Holderness Family on YouTube.  I love this family.

Monday, October 5, 2020

2020, perfect timing for a stroke

 Well, I haven't had the energy to talk very much so I'm going to write this about my stroke and how I felt leading up to it.  Maybe it can help someone in the future that may have one.  

There are different types of strokes.  I had an acute stroke, which means blood flow temporarily stopped in part of my brain, the front right part.

I had been having headaches for days and was overall fatigued.  I couldn't stand the light and kept forgetting things.  I would get Karley up and go back to bed.  I had so much to do, but I didn't want to even paint for fun.  I felt lightheaded and nothing was helping the headaches.

My mother used to get migraines beginning at my age, so I assumed it was something like that.  On Thursday Sept. 24th I woke up feeling amazing.  My headaches and symptoms were gone.  I decided to put some furniture together to organize my office.  

Super bad idea.  I kept getting confused.  It's like I could not comprehend  the directions.  I kept putting pieces in the wrong spot and logically could not think.  It was a simple 12 unit cubicle organizer.  I've always put furniture like that together, even when I was dating someone.  My entire life, since I could talk, I've always said, "Ill do it myself".  I was a so little and talking and my mom would try to help me and I wouldn't let her, saying "I'll do it myself.  I've felt like I could do things anyone could do.  And I probably could have had the blood flow just not stopped in part of my brain.

It's an odd sensation.  I was sitting down (thank God).  I was suddenly dizzy and flopped down on my back.  I was still sitting with my legs tucked in but very soon realized that I couldn't move my left side and was having trouble with my right.

I knew I was having a stroke.  I had siri to the rescue again.  She called Karley's dad who immediately dropped everything he was doing to come get me.  Why didn't I call 911? I didn't want to go to our local hospital.  This one was serious and many have died from strokes there.

When John arrived, I was still on the ground.   He grabbed my pill bag and I immediately took 4 low dose aspirin and a blood thinner.  I did get in trouble for taking that, had I been having a hemorrhagic stroke, it could have killed me.  Considering it was going to take us almost 2 hours to get to Jacksonville and help, I was willing to take those odds.

Because I couldn't walk or feel the left side of my body, John had to carry me to his truck.  He was panicking like I was in labor again.  I felt so bad.  Once we were on our way to Baptist Memorial in Jacksonville, I kept crying telling him I was sorry about fighting over Karley and he was a great dad and could do it on his own.   I really thought I wasn't going to make it.  I told him to tell Karley how much I love her.  He kept saying, "hang on, you're not going anywhere".  He drove like a nascar driver to get me there.

Upon arrival he opened my door and was carrying me in yelling to anyone that would listen that I was having a stroke.  I was immediately whisked away from his arms and on to a stretcher.  I told him not to stay and go home to Karley.  

They do not play when they think you're having a stroke.  I can't begin to remember all of the tests I went through but they were non stop.  This all happened at 4:50 pm and by 9 p.m. they were sure I wasn't still having the stroke and I was in a room.  Starving because I hadn't eaten all day.

Let me tell you, they do a full drug test on you too.  I had my adderall and xanax in my system.  So don't do drugs if you are prone to having a stroke!  How about not doing drugs period...

I tried to tell them they would find all the cocaine in my system and they laughed and said they already looked and it was clean.  Ruined it for me.

Let me tell you, I cannot use a bed pan or a diaper.  My lady parts refuse.  I had to urinate so bad that when I got in the room, they had to do a forced catherization.  I had a liter of urine in there.  Yes, a liter.  the nurses were amazed.  My body refuses anything but the toilet or a catheter.  

I continued to have tests for about 5 days.  They were able to tell where the stroke occurred but are not ruling out brain mets.  So I have a repeat MRI 6 weeks after the original and they should be able to tell then.

As most of you know, I had several mini strokes last October.  So we are going to UNF Shands neurology to see if they can find out why this is happening.

I've slowly but surly regained feeling on the left side.  My balance is off but I can walk without a walker now slowly.  PT is amazing an taught me so much.  Basically how to get my brain to recognize signals again.  

I go for another assessment today to see where I stand.  And I am standing and slowly walking.  It's amazing how our bodies can fix themselves if you work at it.  

I'm home now doing outpatient rehab.  Let me know if you have any questions I can answer.  I'm so sorry I left everyone hanging.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  My prognosis is good. Just building up my strength an balance.  I praise God for this.  And I'm really beginning to think He gave me part cockroach DNA.

Anyway, life is short.  Just another reminder.  Hold your loved ones close and don't go to bed mad.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Our Nation

This is my blog, so I'm going to write how I feel.  If you want to argue or anything, I'll just delete the comment.  I'm too tired and too stressed to debate.

I've been on twitter today.  I admitted that I have always voted Republican but don't know anymore.  Although, I look back and disagree with really some things on both sides.  A lot of things actually.  So, I've decided to call myself a humanitarian instead of affiliate with any parties.  I will vote for who makes the most sense.  There is something I want to point out.

I am a white woman.  White privileged and all except I have Stage 4 Lung Cancer that I can barely keep up with, much less some of the BLM movements going on.  I want to help.  What was done to George Floyd was awful, as so many others have been treated.  I cried.  I wanted to help.  

I live in the same county Ahmaud Arbery was chased down and shot in broad daylight, yet the DA refused to press charges.  I cried then too and am mad as hell still.  

But, racism is a two way street.  I was on twitter asking how to help, what I could do, and generally trying to let people understand that just because I've voted Republican in no way means I am for the cop in Minnesota or the guys in Brunswick.  It was all due to a meme that was posted that showed that cop as the republican and the cop watching a democrat.  

So, I gave up and called myself a humanitarian.  This was after I was asked if I even went to school (they called me "bruh").  I was told "every person saying 'fuck color and gender' is just trying to convince US their political party is the one for the people".  I don't like the words "they" and "us".  We need words like we.  I guess I'm just naive.

I was told "don't be a sheep" after asking for suggested websites.  When I said I empathize I get a response, "empathize like your president who mocks the handicapped and puts babies behind bars".  I was told "good luck white girl trying to help out black folks".  And then a whole twitter war started about whether Lincoln was a Republican or democrat.  There was a lot more and personnel attacks. 

I mean wow.  I'm just trying to help people understand it is a two way street.  I was kind to every person no matter how much I was insulted.  Which for me is very hard.  I know not all people like the ones on social medial, but how would any of that make me want to help?  I even said, "I am a white woman so do not fully understand but empathize".  

So, now I need a nap and blocked a couple of people.   There were some very helpful people in there, like sunny.  But it takes conversation and dialogue, not personnel attacks, to overcome these things.  Don't try and educate with "you're stupid".  What good does that do?  Nothing.  

I'm raising my child that everyone is created equal.  Maybe if everyone did that, our next generation may look a whole lot different.  Right now we should be fighting the coronavirus.  Not spreading it.  And riots and looting are only ruining the communities from which protesters came.  

I saw some great suggestions on there too.  Anyway, I stepped away.  I just want us all to be one nation, under God.  Not a nation at the edge of collapse because of the economics and damages.  

Anyway, I'll get back to blogging more.  I've been in a funk since this quarantine.  J/K   I've been painting way too much.  

Just know that we are with everyone, from George Floyd to the Police officer shot in the head for no reason.  Everyone should be treated equal.  That was God's intent.  Love thy neighbor.  And please pray for Debbie Pouncey McGettigan and her family for comfort.

God bless!

Friday, May 8, 2020

"United we stand, divided we fall' - Aesop

For 6 years now, Team Draft has been giving us ( the Lung Cancer Community) an outlet to share our research concerns to the world. Anyone who has looked at the lung cancer research funding KNOWS how underfunded we are. So, how do we fix this? How do we get the research we need?

I know you may be thinking, "I'm just one person, does it really matter if I advocate?" Well, the answer is absolutely it matters. Let me give you an example.

My daughter, Karley, is very passionate and loves volleyball. But, if she's the only one to show up to the game (against the opposing team) full of other students, will she win? No. If the other players show up and don't try, will the(y) win? No. How do they get funding for athletic gear, uniforms, etc? They fund-raise, ask for big sponsorships, and challenge different companies to (support) put the most in their team. They don't do it alone. My family and friends help her raise that much needed funding. (If they want to win, they have to be a committed Team on the court and off the court.)

So, in order to be part of (a successful) the team, you have to want it. Do you want to live, and make a difference for future generations?

Chris Draft, former NFL player and co-founder of Team Draft, began November 27, 2011 when he and his wife, Keasha Rutledge Draft, were married in Atlanta, GA Keasha was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in December 2010.

Team Draft was founded by former NFL linebacker and internationally-recognized health advocate, Chris Draft, and his late wife, Keasha, on November 27, 2011—their wedding day. At the time, Keasha, a never-smoker, was battling Stage IV Lung Cancer after being diagnosed with the disease in December 2010. Despite the diagnosis and knowing the long odds they faced, Chris and Keasha decided to fight back, and standing side-by-side, they launched Team Draft at their wedding. Unfortunately, Keasha died one month later.

With an introduction from the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Chris visited American Cancer Society in April 2011)went across the street to the American Cancer Society and asked if there was something they could do to help with funding lung cancer. They asked what the American Cancer Society does for lung cancer awareness month in November. The ACS replied that she could be part of the great american smokeout but that's all they did for lung cancer awareness month. They kindly declined and Keasha passed away about a month after their wedding, leaving Chris to carry on his advocacy.

Had the ACS taken Keasha seriously and really advocated and spoken up, that lung cancer matters, imagine what it would look like today? But they didn't. So it's up to US to keep going, fighting, raising awareness and letting others know that our lives matter!


The outlet Team Draft has given each year to really make an impression on someone is the (Lung Cancer Survivors) Super Bowl Challenge. But that may not happen this year due to the NFL and pandemic, but also, we don't have the Team. I have so many people ask how they can advocate. Raise awareness. Read about the superbowl challenge on Team Draft's website. I went the first year and the NFL and their wives totally embraced me. I sat with Andy Dalton as I told him my story. He put his phone down and listened. Then he retweeted Lung Cancer Matters. Tim Tebow, who always does so much for childhood cancer, he stopped signing autographs to listen to my story.

My point is, we have this opportunity through Team Draft to make a difference in Lung Cancer research and awareness. Unless we have at least 32 people participating, we won't be doing it this year. (That and COV-ID19 maybe). We need this to be a tradition. We need your family and friends talking about the Team and what they can do to help us LIVE!

Being cooped up in the house, I started painting. I want to do a silent auction and dedicate the funds raised to lung cancer research (less overhead). And all the research centers can say Lung Cancer Matters, but they need to show it. It's up to US to challenge them. To inspire them. Take a look at the past winners. They've gone on to be huge advocates in the Lung Cancer Community. But we need more. We all know the underfunding and lack of awareness. It's OUR time to stand up and make these cancer research centers see US. To recognize US. You can fund raise (which is vert fun-unlimited possibilities), blog, write and call your senators. But most importantly, you can join our Team. We can all be on the same page on how we are going to win the game! If we don't, we will be on the same path of under funding and poor survival. We are finally living longer. Let's use that to our advantage! To learn more, go to Team Draft's website or message me and I can get you to the right place.

We all want to Live, for our families and friends. It's time to take a stand. Are you going to be part of the Team or just a spectator?


Since its founding, Team Draft has been dedicated to using its unique platform to raise lung cancer awareness and research funding through its Campaign To Change The Face Of Lung Cancer. And the centerpiece of that Campaign is Team Draft’s annual Lung Cancer Survivors’ Super Bowl Challenge. As Draft explains, “the Super Bowl Challenge gives us a unique opportunity to use the overwhelming media coverage surrounding the Super Bowl to raise lung cancer awareness on an international level.”

“With the game as a backdrop,” says Draft, “we give our survivor-advocates a world-wide platform to share their stories, which we can then use to weave a broader narrative about the state of lung cancer and the hope that now exists for those battling the disease.” And Team Draft’s efforts are paying off. “The Challenge achieves some amazing things in terms of public awareness and changing perceptions about lung cancer,” says Dr. Ross Camidge, Director of Thoracic Oncology at Colorado University Cancer Center.

In addition to raising critical public awareness, the Super Bowl Challenge also raises funds for lung cancer organizations and treatment centers across North America. And because Team Draft’s National Campaign has always been about “we” and not “me,” just as Keasha intended, participating survivor-advocates who raise more than $5,000 during the Super Bowl Challenge may commit 90% of the funds they raise to a lung cancer organization or cancer center of their choice with the remaining 10% going to support Team Draft and its mission. Of this aspect of the Super Bowl Challenge, Dr. Camidge says, “you need somebody working on the national level. You need somebody working on the local level. Everybody wins.”

As Draft points out, “anybody can get lung cancer.” “The disease doesn’t care where you live, but your zip code often determines the quality of care you receive,” he explains. “In football, we understand the importance of the home field advantage. By allowing survivors to direct where funds go, we’re giving people the opportunity to fight for better cancer treatment in their communities—to give themselves and their neighbors the home field advantage,” he says.

“It takes a team to tackle cancer, and thanks to committed survivor-advocates like Angie, Lisa, Christie, Kathy, Sandy, and all those who are participating in the Super Bowl Challenge, we are building a championship team,” Draft says. “Keasha’s legacy of hope lives on through that team and we are grateful to all those who have contributed and continue to contribute to lung cancer awareness, research, treatment and patient advocacy efforts.”

Team Draft hopes to have survivor-advocates from all 32 NFL cities participate in the Super Bowl Challenge, the ultimate goal is for all NCI designated cancer centers and lung cancer organizations—regardless of location—to identify and support a survivor-advocate in the Challenge every year. Team Draft is challenging lung cancer survivors and their supporters to help meet that goal by choosing to fight for their communities by joining the Super Bowl Challenge.

“We know the key to winning this fight is for everybody in the lung cancer community to support one another,” says Draft, adding that “the only way a community or an organization loses is if nobody stands up.”

About Team Draft

Team Draft, an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation, is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing badly needed research funding by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” The fact is, anybody can get lung cancer. Yet, despite the fact that between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have never smoked—including Keasha—are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year, the smoking stigma negatively impacts lung cancer research funding, which pales in comparison to funding for other major cancers and diseases. Team Draft is out to change all that. “If we can take away the stigma that says you have to be a smoker to get lung cancer, we have a real chance to educate people about the true nature of the disease,” explains Draft.

To learn more about Team Draft, share your story, or make a donation, please visit www.teamdraft.org.

Chris Draft

Founder, President, and CEO 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Comical Pandemic

Ok people, I am already running low on xanax due to some of the  inconsiderate and disrespectful people living and vacationing here.  Don't get me wrong.  A lot more people are taking it seriously, but a lot just don't care.  There is nothing COMICAL about this pandemic.  Pick up a history book comedians.

When I lived in Atlanta and 9/11 happened, I literally cried at the kindness this nation showed each other.  But today, there is no crying except for the fact I'm not sure when my daughter is coming home because some people just don't give a damn about the sick or elderly.

Well, guess what.  This virus is starting to hit people 20 and up.  So those of you not caring about the rest of us....we will be inside when you get sick.   In 6 hours the number of cases in the US rose by 2,000.  And that's just for the ones tested.  I can't imagine what it will be like a week or two from now.  Are we in competition with Italy and China?

From the things I've seen, we sure are.  Because the tourist arriving do not care if they spread it.  As long as THEY are not sick or inconvenienced.

Where is the leadership in this county and state?   I know the County cancelled.  TOO RISKY.   But I did inquire about the beaches and all the people really not caring what the cdc recommendations are.  I will insert the response from the district 2 commissioner.  All the commissioners need to do is ask the governor for help.  But, it looks like we are on our own from what I've been told.

Those who think this is a joke or overrated, wait until you have a loved one die.  It will happen.  We haven't even begun to see the full impact of this virus.  But, it's a free country so live it up!  I have no right to tell you what to do.  You can't fix stupid.

Meanwhile, I'll be home surviving for my child.  Because we don't know if this disease will mutate or what.  It's very uncertain at this time.  It saddens me to see a new generation that does not know what real devastation can be.  Mock me if you want.  I won't respond.  My blog, my opinion (and the cdc).

Their are a variety of ways to pay for things to those who have lost jobs.  If you catch your local nightly news or just google, you can find out how.  I'm tired of arguing with some of you, just gonna sit back and let it play out.

Good for you Miami-Dade for doing the right thing!  And Lord, I pray for all of our friends, family and neighbors.  Please keep them safe.   All we can do right now is turn our worries over to God.  God bless you all and please stay safe.

Samantha Mixon

 Over night