Several days ago, I got a text message telling me that a former colleague and friend had passed away unexpectedly. I had seen her recently and she was her usual happy self. We made plans to get together for lunch soon. I guess none of us realized that her days here on earth were coming to a close. …More
Okay, this post is probably going to have a lot of people looking at me and thinking I have gone stark-raving crazy. But, here goes anyway!
What would life without cancer be like?
I participate in a forum whose participants have all kinds of different cancers. Today, a post was made that asked, “Do you get wrapped up in thinking about what might have been if cancer hadn’t come?” The person who asked the question is livid that she has cancer.
I recently saw a study that found that lung cancer patients who do not have anxiety or depression live longer than those who do.1 I was surprised to find this information because I have always been told that attitude might make your remaining life happier, but it has no impact on how long you live.
When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I didn’t know anyone else who was still alive and fighting the disease. I started searching around and ultimately landed on a group where I feel totally at home – it is called WhatNext.
I am going to post two links below that will help you know if you think WhatNext will be a good fit for you. I go to a lot of different lung-cancer related forums, but I spend most of my time on WhatNext. It feels like home to me.
On WhatNext, there are caregivers and loved ones, survivors, and people from the medical field for all kinds of cancer from skin cancer to liver, lung, or lymphoma cancers. Take a look at the information below and please join, if it sounds like a place you’d like to be a part of!
This link tells you a lot of the benefits of the group in an advertising way: https://www.whatnext.com/ilp/lungcancer/?campaign=AMLC
SandiA is a Stage 4 Melanoma survivor who is active on the site. She tells you why she loves WhatNext so much!
Let me know if you joined the group because you saw this post! I look forward to seeing you! I think you’ll love it there as much as I do!
I have lung cancer. My husband has diabetes and heart disease, along with PTSD, thanks to his service in Vietnam years ago. So, while he helps take care of me if my treatments make me sick and weak, I try to help keep him healthy, too.
It is frustrating sometimes. Because he faces multiple issues, he takes handfuls of pills morning and night. Some he has to have twice a day, several have to be cut in half, one has to be removed from one of those packages where each pill is separate and has to be pushed through paper and foil. I don’t know what that package is called, but let me tell you, I hate it. I always lose at least one fingernail to it and my fingers are sore for hours after pushing those stupid pills out of the package.
I’ve tried everything to make it easier to get them out of the foil pack. I stab each little compartment. The black iron pills all have little specks of white on them because the scissors I stab with take some of the black coating off.
Since it is a time-consuming duty to manage his pill-taking, I do six weeks worth at a time. We have stacks of those pill reminder boxes. Let me tell you, it is amazing how quickly six weeks passes and it is time to fill them again.
But, here’s the deal. If I don’t fill the boxes, he just won’t take his pills. Last night we thought about having a bowl of ice cream. (Hmmmm, maybe that’s why I don’t lose any weight!!) He said, “Let me check my blood before we get the ice cream out.” Yikes, it was over 300 … It should have been between 90 and 130.
I was astounded that it was so high. He’d had a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner, but an apple rather than chips. When I worried about what could have caused it to go so high, he said, “I didn’t have my meds today.”
Well, that explains a lot. I asked him, “Are you out of pills?” meaning, are all of the little pill boxes empty. Answer, “yes.” Now, I have no idea when he finished taking the sorted pills or why in the world he didn’t mention to me that he was out. I don’t particularly enjoy spending the hour or so that it takes separating out the pills, but I never fail to do it! After all, his health depends on it.
If he runs out, he will just do without his medications. That’s worrisome to me. It is entirely possible that he will outlive me. So, then what? I am pretty sure the VA isn’t going to spring for those nice little pill packs I see advertised on TV sometimes. (I sure wish they would! Those look really handy!)
How do those of you in a similar boat handle this? And, does anyone have suggestions on how to get into those foil packs things without breaking fingernails and ending up with sore fingers from all of the pushing and fighting you have to do to get the pills out? What is the purpose of making it so difficult anyway?
I have already written about my excitement on Monday when I got to be interviewed for NBC Nightly News. What fun that was!!! But, it was only the beginning of an incredible week!
First Monthly Opdivo Treatment
I had to rush to my treatment appointment after the NBC interview. For nearly five years, I have gotten my treatments every two weeks. My friends, that is a lot of doctor appointments, especially for someone who previously avoided doctors like the plague. On Monday, I started getting a double dose of Opdivo. I will only go for treatments once a month.
I am so excited to have more of my life returned to me. I was a little nervous though about potential side effects. Well, it is Friday night and I have felt fine the entire time since the treatment. Yes!!!
Fun in the Sun (and the Bluebonnets)
On Tuesday, my friend Deanna drove three-plus hours to meet me in Ennis, Texas. Ennis is known for its beautiful patches of bluebonnets, the Texas state flower. Now, if you live in Texas, you live for bluebonnet season! It is a rare Texan that doesn’t head out to the bluebonnets with their kids, their dogs, their grandmas, their husbands or wives for pictures.
Deanna and I had so much fun! She lives in Florida now so I don’t get to see her often. I was blessed that she spent one of her days of vacation in Texas with me. We had a blast driving all through Ennis and Palmer and surrounding communities searching for bluebonnets. I can’t say we found a lot, but we had a lot of fun laughing and talking up a storm!!
It had been a LONG time since I had had my good camera out. I was afraid I wouldn’t remember how to use it, but a lot of it came back to me. It was good to use it again. Unfortunately, I have to remember how to reduce the file size before I can share any of them here with you.
Wednesday was a day of rest, but Thursday found me back at the gym with my friend Linda. We have been trying to work out at least twice a week since the new year began. She is a little better about making the goal plus some than I am. That’s probably why she’s having a little better results than I am, too!
Nevertheless, while I guess it is not “fun,” exactly, to go to the gym, I do enjoy getting together with her. Despite being tired and sore when we leave, I do feel more energized. I can tell I am stronger. Now, if only, I would lose some weight … or at least … some belly.
Thursday afternoon, I listened to a Webinar on advocating to Congress in preparation for the Life and Breath rally in Washington, DC next week. Immediately following that, I participated in a market research call. I always like to do those, both because I make a little spending money and because it is fun to see what potential commercials will be coming out. Oddly, I liked all three commercials I was shown. I typically don’t like or can find ways to improve the ads I’m shown.
Today, I got to have another new experience. I got to participate as a presenter in a Webinar about immunotherapy. It was a lot of fun. I had worried about my Internet service not cooperating, but today it was good. If only the guy who does our yard hadn’t shown up just about the time the Webinar started… I suspect there will be a lot of lawn mowing noises in the background when the Webinar is published.
I also tried making a video to post on WhatNext. For a first try, it wasn’t bad. I got a kick out of the fact that Espy decided that it was the perfect time for some petting, affection, and purring. Like with the yard mowing, timing is everything!
I have a few down days now, which I need. I leave for Washington, DC on Wednesday morning. I have a 6AM flight so we’ll have to be at the airport by 4 AM. It takes about an hour to get there. Maybe I won’t go to bed??? I’m sleepy just thinking about it!
I hope you’ve also had a fun and interesting week!
I have to begin this blog on a sad note. There have been personal and national tragedies that occurred since I agreed to write a blog about hope and optimism. I lost three friends to cancer in a week’s time … and last night, my city lost five police officers who were gunned down in cold blood while doing their job of overseeing a peaceful protest march. Sometimes, events make it hard to see joy and optimism, but it’s still there. We just have to look a little harder.
Even though I will miss my friends badly, they each outlived their prognosis for stage IV lung cancer by years. The reason they beat the statistics and had years added to their lives after being diagnosed is because of the huge advances being made every single day in new treatment options.
originally published July 14, 2016
I am an animal lover. I always have been. When I was a little girl, my mother would let us have cats but not dogs. I remember frequently hugging a stuffed poodle and praying that God would turn it into a real dog.
As soon as I was on my own, I got a dog or two or three! I’ve had at least one my entire adult life. Usually, I have had two or more. They complete me. I suspect many of you know exactly what I mean. …More…
I am sitting here staring at a blank sheet of paper, wondering what I have to say to you that will be worth your time reading it. I am no scientist. With the advent of chemo brain, I don’t even really enjoy reading and researching like I once did. So I have no great wisdom to impart.
What I do have to pass along is hope. Such a little word but one that has the ability to change your life. Hope crowds out anxiety and pushes away fear. It fills you with peace and can motivate you. ….More
I was just looking at my Facebook memories. I love those! I find myself posting things I want to remember to Facebook now so that they will show up in my memories in the future. Am I the only person who does that? More…
A few years ago, I wrote a number of blog posts for Patient Power. I am going to provide links to them on my blog. Happiness is My Normal was originally posted 4/28/2016