Rise to the Challenge. And Carry On.

It was just about a year ago when I got news that turned my world upside down…again. I had been in a clinical trial for right at four years. During that time, I had gotten countless CT scans and nearly 100 infusions of the immunotherapy drug, Opdivo.

Preparing for Infusion #100

Ninety-eight infusions of Opdivo, to be exact. I knew about immunotherapy and how it works before almost anyone. I remember going to the ER one day in 2014 with an unexplained fever and warning them that I was on immunotherapy. The nurses, techs, and doctors looked at me like I had three heads. They had absolutely no idea how to pronounce it or what it was. Until then, I don’t guess I really realized just how new this treatment really was.

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Cancer May Steal my Health; It Won’t Take my Joy

When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.

Have you seen this meme floating around on social media? It really spoke to me.

It reminded me of my friend Jane. I first met Jane about a year ago when she sent me a long email after reading a blog I had written. Jane has a couple of kids, a loving husband, and a thriving business. And cancer. Her cancer, unfortunately, overshadows everything that is good in her life.

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Listening in on what a Member of Congress Says about Cancer

Have you heard of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)? Every September, they present a Cancer Progress Report to Congress. I just spent some time on their Web site, listening to some of the 2018 survivors’ stories. This year, The Honorable Mark DeSaulnier, D-California was among those featured.

Taxpayer dollars funding research

Maybe it is because of my background in accounting, but I was struck by the way Representative DeSaulnier spoke about the “return on investment” that Americans get when taxpayer dollars are spent on National Institutes of Health (NIH) programs.

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The End of Another Lung Cancer Awareness Month Arrives

Well … here it is again … November 30. It is Cotton’s birthday – she’s 10 today … it was my uncle’s birthday – I’m not sure how old he would be now, in his 90s somewhere – and it is the last day of lung cancer awareness month.

I wasn’t as active this month as I am sometimes with getting posts made to Facebook; life intervenes sometimes. I always hope to bring awareness to anyone who will listen – anyone with lungs is susceptible to lung cancer, it is the most deadly cancer by far, it is the most underfunded cancer by far (if you take into consideration how many tens of thousands it kills each year). Something needs to be done.

Loss of another Good One

Yesterday, one of the biggest advocates out there passed away from lung cancer. Matt Ellefson has been a tireless and fearless leader for nine years. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy will continue through the nonprofit he formed, SURVIVEIT. I rest easy that he is in the arms of Jesus. He was a dedicated and devoted Christian.

There’s been a discussion on lungcancer.net about whether the sudden death of a child (albeit a 43-year-old “child”) or a lung cancer diagnosis is worse. I believe losing a child suddenly is worse, but some don’t. Some feel that their diagnosis is absolutely the worst thing that has ever or will ever happen to them.

Not me. Even if my son hadn’t just died, I would not say that lung cancer is the worst thing that ever happened to me. I honestly don’t know what I would say was the worst thing … I am a glass-half-full kind of person and I dwell on the positives of every experience, including a lung cancer diagnosis and including the death of my only child.

Too Many Die

Anyway … this post is about Lung Cancer Awareness Month coming to an end. I always hate to see it go. I like seeing everyone’s posts. Some choose to highlight people who have had lung cancer – either who have passed away from it – 433 a day do, you know – or those of us who are fortunate and still alive, fighting every day … or a few lucky ones who are enjoying remission.

Others post facts. That’s usually what I do. I try to make people aware of the gross underfunding the disease gets. And the fact that anyone, smoker or nonsmoker, can get lung cancer. Young women seem to be the most commonly diagnosed these days. That’s not scientific, just an observation. I guess I could look up stats for it, but they’d be old anyway.

Breast Cancer vs Lung Cancer

Breast cancer attacks more women than lung cancer, but most people recover from breast cancer. It isn’t an easy road to recovery, by any means, but there is light at the end of that long tunnel.

Lung cancer kills WAY more women than breast cancer does. Usually within the first year after diagnosis. No matter how often or how loudly we try to shout this information, it apparently falls on deaf ears.

What’s the Answer?

I just don’t know what the answer is. We try going to Congress and mostly we just leave frustrated. We try telling doctors, friends, family and coworkers … well, our friends, family and maybe our coworkers – people close to us – get the picture, understand on some level. But doctors are still grossly misinformed and therein lies much of our problem.

Too many doctors think smoking causes lung cancer. Everyone knows smokers deserve anything they get. So, there is no need to fund research for the world’s most deadly cancer. It is simply taking out those who deserve it anyway. Wow.

Smoking is a nasty habit, but there are other nasty habits. No one is so maligned by theirs. Maybe it is because cigarettes stink so much. They offend those of us who don’t smoke. So, is the attitude that if someone has the audacity to offend me with their smoke then they deserve to die a somewhat horrific death?

What’s this world come to?

Ready or Not … the Holidays are Coming

Boy! I don’t know how you feel about it, but for me, 2018 has sped by like a bullet. I cannot believe that we are about to begin the holiday season. In some ways, I love this time of year.

What I love about this time of year…

I like the weather better, for sure. I live in Texas where it is hot a good portion of the year. I look forward to cooler temperatures and always dream of a “white Christmas,” though the likelihood of having one is quite slim.

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Taking the Bull by the Horns and Advocating for Yourself

I got a post from someone new to the lung cancer world today. I was struck by how much smarter she is than I was when I was first diagnosed.

Trusting my astute PCP

After I was diagnosed by my primary care physician (PCP), I simply did what she told me to do. By the time she delivered the bad news that I had lung cancer, she already had an appointment set up for me with an oncologist for the next day.

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November Begins My Month of Thankfulness

I generally begin November by listing, day by day, that for which I am grateful. Some days, the only thing that really strikes me is that I got up that morning or that the sun is shining. Other days, I have a long list of things for which I am thankful.

My reasons to be grateful

Some people think I am crazy when I begin to list the reasons why I am grateful for my current situation. It isn’t that I would not rather have never had cancer. No one is foolish enough to wish cancer on themselves or anyone else.

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5 Things You Can Do Even if You Have No Energy

Cancer treatments completely zap our energy. I get nivolumab treatments now and they do not leave me as exhausted as traditional chemo treatments did. But I remember being so tired I could barely lift one foot after another to walk to the refrigerator. Radiation treatments also took away most of my energy. I’m sure most of us have found us in this place.

So, what can you do when you’re physically exhausted, but you don’t want to just stare mindlessly at the television set? Here are five ideas that other cancer patients and I have found to keep us occupied and involved.

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Frustration Boils Over … One more Time

For some reason, every time one of my friends knows someone with lung cancer, they turn to me for comfort. I don’t really know why, except that they know I have “been there done that.” I’m very happy to help in any way I can. More often than not, the person with cancer doesn’t want to talk to me, but their loved ones do. I guess I give them some perspective on what it is like to live with lung cancer.

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