Monday, February 3, 2020

3 Giants lost

I've been in a slump lately.  My cancer returned over the summer, I had two strokes in October, and my December scans were not completely clear.  So, I guess you could say, last summer woke me up again to my own immortality.  I have Stage 4 lung cancer and there's not a thing I can do about it.

I remained in this slump throughout the new year and now it's gotten worse.  I'm desperately trying to pull myself out, but I find myself crying all of the time, especially this past week.  Our lung cancer community lost 3 of our long term brothers and sisters.  These were people so many looked up to as sign for hope.  I don't remember a time that I've had cancer when these people weren't there.

January 28th, we lost Jennifer Toth.  Jennifer was a pure badass.  She didn't put up with anything from anyone.  And if you were her loyal friend, she was that in return.  If she wanted to say something about you, she said it to you instead.  She was so funny too.  Some of the conversations we used to have would probably keep you from your lunch, but it was nice to have someone to be so honest with.  She did get to see her grandchildren and I know how important that was to her.  She was our lung cancer sister.  She beat the statistics, as did everyone I'll be writing about.  Maybe that's what scares me so much.

February 1st, we lost Superman, aka Don Stranathan. I never, in a million years, thought that we would lose him.  He never stopped smiling.  His motivation and encouragement enveloped you.  Don LIVED life until the very end.  Days before he passed, he posted a pic of himself smiling through his treatment.  He smiled through every treatment.  He was, and always will be, superman to me.  If you had a question, he was there.  He walked with God daily and I'm sure he knew things would get better one day.  And they did, he's free.  The man who was always there will never be forgotten.  His will to live despite all other circumstances was amazing.  I want to be that positive.  I want to pull myself out of this.

February 2nd, we lost Bobbi Johnson Filipiak aka Bobbi Jo.  I met Bobbi Jo when she was newly diagnosed.  In my opinion it took them way to long to do genetic testing on her.   She could've started with a targeted therapy.  These hospitals need to be held accountable for their lack of testing.  I don't know how to do it, but I promise you, when I pull myself out, I will be making noise for this to happen.  Accountability.

Bobbi Jo left behind her husband and sweet young daughter.  She didn't want to leave them, no one does.  But God had other plans for these 3 angels.  I think Bobbi Jo probably hit me the hardest because she does have a daughter she can't see grow up, or be there for her.  She was young.  And of all the people we've lost over the past few days, I was closer to her.  She knew she was running out of time, but just like Don, she was always smiling for the camera.  I guess that's what we do.  She knew her last treatment was a hail mary, but she did not want to leave her little girl.

Losing these 3 greats has further pushed me into a slump.  It's selfish for me to want them here, they are finally free and Kelly Shannon now has more friends with her.  I just feel like it's so unfair that we were given this life.  Not just me, all of us.  I know, life isn't fair.

The hardest part of this disease, as someone who has it, is the survivors guilt.  You begin to think "why not take me?"  Well, to those of us who remain, God has us here for a reason.  I don't know what that purpose is, but I'm so tired and I really miss them.

I haven't been writing much.  That's how you know I'm not well emotionally and just writing this has already tired me out.  I feel like everything is coming to an end.  This world keeps changing, it forgot to stop for us who needed it to.  It will never stop, and we have to learn to roll with the punches.

I know Satan is trying to have me turn my back on God because of the loss of these 3.  And although I'm an emotional wreck, I'm not mad at God.  They fulfilled their purpose and have been rewarded because now they get to go home.  As Robert Frost says, "I have miles to go be fore I sleep".  He couldn't be more correct.  We are no longer being snuffed out before we can make a change.  So just give me some time to get myself together, because we are going to make changes for Jennifer, Don, and Bobbi Jo.  And all the ones we've lost before.  Kelly, you are still my soul sister and I'm a little jealous of the new company you have.

None of us are getting out of this alive.  No one.  It's the time between birth and death that we need to use to make a difference.  Remember, you never see a U-Haul following a hearse.  We all come in the same way and leave this world the same way.

All of these deaths have also smacked me in the face and made me realize how precious life is.  Each of these people knew that.  They soaked it up and spread it around.  They were all leaders, the greats.  They were people we should all look at as examples of how to live our lives full of love and grace.  As of now, I'm scared for my own mortality.

Thank you for your continuous prayers and please include peace for these families and friends.  I'm sorry if there are any grammatical errors.  It has taken all I have today to write this.  Sometimes it's okay if the only thing you do in a day is breathe.  Please send prayers, not only for these families and friends, but for the entire lung cancer community who suffered this huge blow.  It's getting harder every time to pull out of these slumps.  Yes, I'm thankful to still be here, but selfish me just want my friends back.  Dear Lord, please hold all of  my friends close and give everyone reading this peace and comfort beyond our understanding.  Amen.  Rest in Paradise friends, until I see you guys again.   I'm not sure how I'm going to be okay at the summit this year.  Too many lost over the years, it's getting too hard.  If any of you need to talk, please message me.  I know how alone things like this can make you feel.  I'll be here for you.  God Bless.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Eve - Many Updates

So, I haven't updated in a while so here it goes.  After I had another MRI earlier this month, it was discovered that I did not have brain METs, which is wonderful news.

However, recently I've had two vascular strokes so am going to acquire another specialist for this (honestly have no idea how many I have now).

One of the strokes left a lot of pain in my right foot on the bottom.  I've been doing physical therapy for it, so it's getting better.  I once thought this lung cancer would be the only thing to take me out.  Now I'm having other issues, like strokes, so maybe it won't be lung cancer.

I went for my most recent petscan earlier this month.  I have 2 lymph nodes that lit up, my cervix lit up as did one of my ovaries.  So, since I have had cervical cancer before, I'm going to return to my OB-GYN and probably another new specialist.  If it is in fact cancer, I'm pushing for a full hysterectomy.  This would not be metastasis from the lung.  It would be a separate cancer altogether.

As far as my lymph nodes, we are watching those since they are near the area I had radiation over the summer.

So, that's my plan.  Waiting.  It's always fun to play this waiting game (insert sarcasm here).  I will see my OB-GYN after the 1st of the year and will keep you guys updated.

I'm not worried.  I know all of this is beyond my control and I am still happy with the petscan outcome.  I'm blessed to have surpassed 7 years on 11/27 when I was originally thought to live 12-18 months.

I'm so thankful for your continuous prayers and I'm so excited I got to celebrate my 40th birthday with my sister and favorite friends.  I never thought I would make it to 40.  I know I'm blessed.  I'm praising God for my life.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.  Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season.  Pic Overload Ahead.....

First Christmas with Lung Cancer 7 Years Ago

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Cancer or what?

So, this isn't going to be a long post.  I just wanted to give you guys an update all at once and will keep you updated.   Plus, I need to work on moving this right hand.  This is why...

Friday morning, at approximately, 11 a.m., I bent over to pick up a pillow the dog knocked onto the floor.  I wasn't looking, as I've been picking up things for as long as I can remember....  Suddenly, my right hand was so cold.   I looked down and it was somewhat curled in and not moving.  I stood up straight and realized I had no feeling or control of my right elbow down.  Happy Halloween!  Something had finally scared me...

I was by myself and not thinking correctly.  I tried to swipe open my phone with my right hand but couldn't get it to open.  I'm not sure why I didn't think to lay my phone down with my left hand to facilitate it.  I think I was terrified to even put it down.  Siri came in handy, she called 911 for me.  I never use her.  But she worked great!

The paramedic was looking for someone much older.  I explained it was me.  We checked my vitals and all was well.  They suggested I leave with them for the hospital though.  I was brought in as a possible stroke.  The right side of my face wasn't smiling all of the way either. 

They ran every test I could think of.  Then, they came in and told me they were admitting me.  I had to wait until the next day before speaking with the neurosurgeon on call.  We aren't sure what it is. 

My CT Scan and MRI both showed an area of concern in the left front part of my brain.  After discussing with neuro and my oncologist, it was decided that I go back to Atlanta and consult with neurology there since most of my films are there.  This area is no where close to my craniotomy sight.  So, we aren't sure if it was a stroke, TIA, or the cancer has spread again to the brain.  My official diagnosis was Mets to the brain.

My mom and I are leaving for Atlanta tomorrow.  I wanted to go out to eat with Karley before my birthday, but God has other plans, which probably involve the hospital.  Yay for 40! 

Thank you all for your continuous prayers.  Karley, if you come across this, know that I love you so very much and there is nothing in this world that could stop me from loving you and I know you feel the same way about me.  Even through this teenage phase.  I know that you're scared and try to put on a brave face.  I couldn't me more proud to be your mom.  I'm so sorry I don't tell you enough.

Anyways, I'll update later this week....hopefully we can get some answers.  This was a huge reminder of how we never know when our time could be up.  So, hug your loved ones and hold them tight.  Don't go to bed mad.  Don't even leave your loved ones mad.  You never know what could happen.

Love you all and thanks for letting me practice my typing.  I'm a little slow...but it's coming back.  I know I have to turn it over to God, it's more than I can handle, so that's what I'm doing.  Update soon.

Got my smile back before leaving the hospital!

My world

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Results of the Cautiously Optimistic

I went in for my results yesterday.  As with the other radiation I've had to my lung, it's very cloudy and sometimes we aren't able to fully tell anything for months to a year.  We are going to try to keep me on petscans so we can find anything growing, but you know insurance companies...

So, nothing lit up on my new pet scan, which is nothing short of the work of God!  I feel so blessed that he continues to lead my oncologist into making the right decisions for me.  So, what does this mean?  It means they found no active cancer!  I say cautiously optimistic because the cloud is there, but I'll take that win!

We've started joking around that my father and I have cockroach DNA.  I know, sounds supergross, but we get knocked down and get back up and keep on going.  I'm not sure how many lives we are on now.  So, cockroach DNA for the win this time!

I do give it all to God  There is a reason I'm still here as well as my wonderful parents.  I trust in his reasoning wholeheartedly.  I may have had a few anxiety attacks...but I have kept the faith. 

When I was packing, one of Karley's cats had his own anxiety attack and ran away.  He was gone for two days and the worrying about that along with scans was making me nuts.  But early, the morning of my scan results, my dear friend Jennifer called to let me know he came home.  I was overjoyed, and it was then, I knew it would be a good day.  Pics below, the orange one was missing and his sister was either trying to scare him from coming back or waiting on him.  I'm not sure.

My next scan will be in December.  At that point I will have surpassed 7 years on my first line treatment of tarceva.  We've had some bumps in the road but have been coming out on top each time.  I ask you all to continue to pray that I keep going, especially for my daughter.  Statistics are still not good and I continue to surpass them.

Please pray for my four friends from Jonesboro High School who also have cancer, we started our own group chat. 

I met Angela Miller for lunch.  Let me just say you are in for a real treat if you try holding a conversation with either of us.  We forget words, get confused on topics of discussion, forget in an instant what we are saying.  It did make me laugh longer than I have in a while though.  I hate she's going through this too but I't makes me feel a little better that I'm not a mess by myself.   Please pray for her, she has 3 little ones she loves so much.  I know how hard it is to have your world turn upside down.  Its devastating. 

My dearest friend in St. Simons recently got diagnosed with breast cancer.  Honestly....it's not contagious!  I swear I'm not giving it to people! 

As for now, I will live these 3 months and put cancer in the back of my mind once again.  Between it's return and then pneumonia, I haven't felt well since probably April.  I'm now breathing better and so glad we recognized the pneumonia.  I may be still tired from that...but I will so be back to the silliness that makes me whole very soon.

I love you all and cannot thank you enough for all the well wishes and prayers that you guys sent for me.  I'm always here for you if you need anything.  God bless you all.  And here are a few pics below.  Please enjoy the ones I stole from my daughters Instagram page!  Homecoming 2019!  Oh, and one more from NYC with the world trade center in the back....