Monthly Archives: April 2014

Blessings

You have to look for your blessings where you can … and I know you guys will think I am weird, but this lung cancer made it possible for me to retire. I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is not to have to go to work any longer. I have had to work one or two jobs since I turned 20. I am loving every second of not having to do that any longer!

Another HUGE blessing is that the treatment I am on (clinical trial for immunotherapy drug) is wonderful. Here I am … Stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer patient … nearly 1-1/2 years after diagnosis … still doing fantastic!!! The tumors are still there, but they are just sitting in the same spot as they were when we discovered them. They haven’t grown or multiplied or spread. Hallelujah and Praise God!

The immunotherapy is the best thing since sliced bread. It doesn’t make you sick or tired and before I started getting it I was sick and tired of being sick and tired!! The hardest part of getting it is spending a long half day at the hospital getting an infusion every two weeks. Lucky me and lucky cancer patients everywhere … the company is or will soon be seeking FDA approval. From what I know, none of the patients who are participating at the clinic where I go has had terribly adverse side effects and I think everyone is doing quite well in the fight against their cancer.

I am so glad that I found UT Southwestern. Some people told me that they felt like it was a huge and cold institution that didn’t care about patients except as numbers in science experiments. Well, that’s far from true. The girls behind the desk know you, the aides who take you from place to place know you, the nurses, physician’s assistants, researchers, and doctors all know you as a person. I always feel like I am seeing friends when I go. Which is a good thing since treatments occur every two weeks.

My life is so full. Every single day is packed with things that I love to do. In the past, my days were full, but they were full of work-type activities. I worked at my 8-5 job and then I came home and took care of SchoolGrants, the business that God blessed me with since 1999. I let it go a couple of years ago and that was quite a liberating feeling! It still is. It was my passion for a long, long time but I burned myself completely out.

Once you receive a cancer diagnosis, I don’t think the fact that you have cancer (or had cancer if you are fortunate enough to beat it) ever leaves your mind. I never go through a day that I do not remember quite well that I have cancer. It impacts my thought processes. On the other hand, some days I can’t believe the diagnosis is correct. How can I be so sick when I’m so healthy??!!!

Which brings to mind more praises! Week after week, month after month, my blood tests come back perfect. We do thorough blood analyses before every single treatment and every time, my tests are perfect. My doctor is amazed. He said that less than 1% of cancer patients are as fortunate. It isn’t just my blood tests that come back perfect, so do my blood pressure, oxygen, and temperature readings! How can I not call myself lucky? LUCKY!! or, more appropriately, BLESSED. Totally.

Here’s another way I am blessed. Insurance. Oh my gosh. Fighting cancer is expensive. Ridiculously so. What do people who don’t have insurance do? I really don’t know. I’m glad I don’t have to find out.

I have been on some cancer sites lately that are sort of like support groups or something. I have never felt the need for a support group but I like to go to these online groups and offer support to those just learning they have cancer. I want them to know that a horrible diagnosis that scares the living daylights out of you may truly not be the end of the world at all.

Those people who get the diagnosis and decide right away that they’ll just go with palliative care distress me. No one thought I had a lot of time left but I was determined to make the best of what time I did have. My life has slowly evolved to something that it wasn’t when I was diagnosed. For instance, I do not participate in all of the same events, like agility training and competing, that I was consumed with prior to learning I was battling lung cancer. But my life is full. Every single minute of it! I am as happy as can be. Each day ends with me thinking that I needed more hours to get everything done that I wanted to get done that day. Amazing.

Those who just give up are missing out on so much. None of us have tomorrow promised to us, so we should all appreciate each and every hour that we are given. I just wish that those who choose not to fight their cancer would reconsider. At least I wish they would try to get into a test study so that the doctors can research the effects of more treatments. It might or might not help them but it surely might help someone else down the road. I’ve never been a hand-wringer. I don’t guess I understand  those who are.

Well, I planned to post a lot of pictures here and discuss some of my recent activities, but I’m really beat. Today was treatment day and it was a long day. I’ll come back before too long and post some lovely pictures I’ve had the opportunity to capture over the last few weeks and months.

Until then, take care and thank God for another day!

I’ll leave you with two of my most favorite blessings:

My lovely Cotton. She’s doing some birdwatching here. I’ll be posting pictures from our bird watching in the near future.

Barney. My heart and soul. 

From Where I Sit

I am thinking of starting a new blog called “From Where I Sit.” I planned to post pictures and thoughts that  occur “from where I sit.” Somehow, some of what I do on  a day to day basis didn’t seem like it fit on a blog about Facing Lung Cancer.

But then I thought … every single day of my journey is part of facing lung cancer. So maybe there is really no need for a separate blog at all. The whole point is that most days have nothing to do with lung cancer and everything to do with living. What a waste it would be to dwell on the cancer instead of seeing all of the beauty that surrounds us.

So, for now, I think “From Where I Sit” is just going to stay right here as part of Facing Lung Cancer. The reason I started the blog in the beginning was to help people in the future who receive a similar diagnosis. I wanted to let them see what the journey was all about. I planned to chronicle what it was like to be fighting cancer.

I wanted everyone to know what it was like to get chemo. To be deathly ill from the poisons we voluntarily drip into our bodies. To be so tired that walking to the refrigerator is a major accomplishment. Since it was all new to me as well, I just planned to take others along with me as we navigated a new world. The end goal was to make it less scary for those who follow me with their own diagnoses.

Well, surprise, surprise!!! It is about so much more than being sick. That, in fact, is just a small part of what facing lung cancer is all about. In fact, facing lung cancer is about making the most of every single solitary day. We don’t know when we’ll draw our last breath. None of us do. So we all ought to be enjoying the time we have here on this earth. And not sweating the small stuff.

So, for tonight, I will leave you with some pictures that I find inspirational in their own way. The majesty of the sky and the trees … and a shot of the moon!

Last night was the first in a series of 4 times that we had a blood red moon. I practiced getting a shot of the moon before the event last night.

I stayed up to watch the eclipse. And the moon was gorgeous. Unfortunately, my photography skills were less than adequate. I got a picture (or 10) that I will share, but they are not good. I learned that I have a lot to learn!

I thought the trees that are just budding out looked awesome against the blue sky filled with fluffy white clouds.

 

Depending on where you looked in the sky, there were either big, white, fluffy clouds or stormy clouds.
For me, gazing at this picture brings a peacefulness. I hope it affects you similarly.
Here, I was experimenting to see if I could even get a shot of the moon that wasn’t just a big blur. Success!

 

The eclipse has begun!!

 

Nearly half of the moon is covered. Where is the red?

 

Only a sliver of the moon hasn’t been eclipsed.

 

Wait???? I’m seeing a beautiful red ball in the sky and my camera is seeing this? Really???

 

Well … it is after the fact … but at least I finally “found” the red moon on my camera! The quality of the picture (and all of the rest of the pictures I got of the red moon) leaves much to be desired, unfortunately.

 

While the picture quality is poor, the beauty of what I saw should be apparent.

 

 

From where I sit, the world and the heavens are beautiful (even when the quality of the photography is not)! I hope the same is true from where you sit!