Category Archives: cancer

“This is the final verdict. My fight is over.”

Those heartbreaking words were written by Charles Krauthammer. I wonder if you know who he is? He was on Fox News often until he left for surgery several months ago.

Krauthammer, whether you agree with his politics or not, is a brilliant man. He has known plenty of adversity during his life. He became a quadriplegic in 1975, after a tragic diving accident. Tragedy didn’t hinder him much. He continued on with his education at Harvard, eventually graduating with a medical degree in psychiatry.

Krauthammer has led an interesting life. After graduating from medical school, he became chief psychiatry resident at Mass General. But, it wasn’t long before he left the medical field and, in 1978, joined the Carter administration where he directed planning in psychiatric research. Later, he took a job as a speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale.

He’s been mysteriously absent since he left Fox, with no advance word that he was taking a break. Among the newscasters, there has always been a reluctance to tell what was wrong with him. We learned he had taken a break to have some kind of surgery, but not what kind.

We knew there were problems associated with the surgery. But, we didn’t know (1) that it was surgery for cancer or (2) that he has been hospitalized ever since he had his surgery ten months ago.

Now, today, Krauthammer finally answered the questions in a heartbreaking open letter. And, while he is not ready to leave this earth, he finished his letter with the following statement:

I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life – full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.

I am very sad to learn that Krauthammer’s life is nearly over. Really took the wind out of my sails to hear the news. It is almost as if I know him. Or, maybe, I just relate to him in ways that only those of us with cancer can.

But, I hope that all of us will be fortunate enough to write such words as he did when our time is nearly over. “I leave with the knowledge that I have lived the life that I intended.” Those are very powerful words!

My Story

I just got an email from Greg Laurie with Harvest America. The email is entitled, “Stories are Important.” And I agree. They are.

In the email, Greg is inviting us to view a movie of three people whose lives were touched and changed because of a Harvest America crusade. He counsels that every Christian has a story. Some of us have a dramatic story. Others may think their stories are “boring.” But, they’re not. Because, whether you had a conversion like Paul did on the road to Damascus or one more like mine, where, as a young kid, I accepted Christ into my heart and life.

While there was nothing that seems all that dramatic about my conversion – I was not much of sinner at the age of 9 or so – the fact is, I, just like Paul and just like every other Christian, was saved that day from a life in hell, from a life separated from the God who made us.

So, you know, maybe my conversion was more dramatic than I sometimes think of it as being.

Not Perfect, Just Saved … and Forgiven

I haven’t lived a perfect life. Far from it. We are by nature sinners so none of us, except our Saviour Jesus Christ, has ever or will ever live a perfect life. Some come closer than others.

Over my lifetime, I have surely done things for which I am not proud. If I could, I would undo them. Of course, that’s impossible so the best I can do is ask for forgiveness. Ask for it … and accept it.

You see, I do believe God when He says He forgives me when I ask for it. If I continue to dwell on what I did wrong, am I not accepting His forgiveness? If I am forgiven, there is no longer any need at all to think about the sin, other than to keep in mind that I should never commit a similar one again.

Rocking Along

You know, for most of my life, I have just rocked along. I have known and believed with all of my heart that I am saved, a child of my God, forgiven. And always, that has provided a peace that really can’t be explained to anyone who hasn’t known the same “peace that passes understanding.”

It isn’t that my life has been particularly rosy. It has definitely been fraught with plenty of challenges. I have the wrinkles to prove it! But, you know, those challenges have not been enough to weigh me down completely because, not only has God saved me, He has been there for me through every day of my life. If I have a problem or a situation, I can hand it over to Him. Then, I can quit worrying about it. I believe in my heart of hearts, “God has it. He will take care of it.” He is way smarter than I am. He knows the “big picture” when I only see a very small part of it.

Things I Don’t Understand

There are many, many things in this life that I do not understand. I don’t understand war, poverty, biting insects, drug addicts, murderers… I don’t understand mothers who steal their children and turn them away from their loving dads. I don’t understand why everyone can’t just think like I do. Wouldn’t life be easier? (And a whole lot more boring!) Why do good people who love God face difficulties in their lives when horrid, devilish unbelievers have all of the worldly goods and fame and peace they want?

Others who are just as saved as I am don’t agree with me on some things – politics, for one. I can’t understand how they can believe as they do … they can’t understand how I can believe as I do … and yet, God loves us all and we are all His children, provided we have accepted Christ, His Son, as our Saviour.

I have to accept that there are things I will not understand until I die. When I get to Heaven, I can ask questions. I think I WILL ask questions!!

Cancer

My faith has always been there, but it became especially real to me when I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. People imagine that I freaked out at that diagnosis, especially after my first oncologist said I would probably only live about 4 months.

The truth of the matter is that I have that same peace that passes understanding as always. Yes, my days on this earth might be shorter than they would have been otherwise. But, what do I have to look forward to if and when I die? HEAVEN!!!!

Win-Win

I tell everyone … and I totally believe it … I am in a win-win situation. If I live, I am happy! I love being alive. I have so much fun, nearly every day. But, death … leaving this earth … means I transition to Heaven! Heaven! Streets of Gold. Singing. Angels. God! Peace and perfection. Wow. What is there to dread about that?

That’s my story, in a small nutshell. Share yours!

 

 

Essential Oils … Oh My Goodness!!

I recently went to a class at Cancer Support Communities North Texas about essential oils (EO). Even though I have heard about and of essential oils for quite some time, I have never really gotten into them. I’ve bought the odd bottle of lavender or peppermint at Walmart, but that’s about the extent of it.

I hear anyone who is “into” essential oils groaning when they read that I purchased mine at Walmart. Walmart, Target, vitamin stores – none of these sources are supposed to have the best oils available. Well, I’m not sure they’re even considered to have adequate oils available.

So, since I attended the class, I have immersed myself in the world of essential oils. I have visited so many essential oil company Web sites that my head spins. I’ve read “Top 10 Essential Oil Companies” blogs ad nauseum.

What I’ve Learned so Far

I’ve come to a conclusion. Well, I’ve come to several conclusions, actually.

  1. Don’t believe what you read on the Internet. I can’t tell you how many of the “Best of” blogs list companies that sell their essential oils in 4 oz. bottles for $12.00. It is unlikely that these oils are going to be the best you can buy. But, you know, there are affiliate links to be considered…
  2. If the “Best of” blogger has links to affiliate sites, well, I think I am going to take their advice with a grain of salt. I think they are more interested in making a buck than in providing reliable information. Everyone can and should do their own due diligence, but that’s my conclusion.
  3. When I decided to jump into the EO world, I entered like a bull in a china cabinet. I’ve done some research, yes, but reading information in books and on the Internet is not the same as doing business with a company and understanding how good their oils actually are.
  4. After spending several hundred dollars on oils from various vendors (Young Living, Essential Oil Labs (through Amazon), Plant Therapy, and Eden’s Garden), I have concluded that I should have (a) waited before jumping in head first with my Young Living purchase and (b) ordered small quantities of oils from the vendors before purchasing an entire kit.

I have purchased lavender oil, among others, from the various vendors. I haven’t received my orders from Eden’s Garden or Plant Therapy yet – the delayed gratification is killing me! I’ve been waiting for the kits to arrive for a week! In this day and age of being spoiled by Amazon Prime, the wait seems like forever.

Both orders – Plant Therapy and Eden’s Garden – should be arriving today and tomorrow. I can’t wait! I have recipes (boy, do I!) ready to try and I have two diffusers waiting to be filled.

High Hopes

I have high hopes for the coming oils. I do not like the concept of multi-level marketing and I do not like the high prices charged by companies like Young Living and doTERRA. I’m not knocking their products. By all accounts, they’re excellent. I just think (and hope) that I can purchase oils of similar quality for far less money.

So, that’s my mission. I’ll share as I go.

 

What Will They Say?

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

Looking at the Positives of Having Lung Cancer – Am I Crazy?

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.

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A Day in History

Five years ago today, May 8, 2013, I quit getting chemotherapy. I have to say, it was a happy, happy day for me to learn that I would not be getting chemo any longer. Chemo and I … we didn’t deal well with one another. No matter how many anti-nausea pills I took, no matter how long I took steroids, no matter what, I was sick, sick, sick from my treatments.

I’ve never been a sickly person. At all. I didn’t even have a primary care doctor that fateful day when I finally went in to see why I kept gaining weight … and we discovered that I had late-stage lung cancer. I hadn’t seen a doctor for 10 years or more (yeah, I’m one of those people who definitely didn’t take care of themselves with regular screenings or anything else).

So, when I was so sick from chemo, I didn’t deal well with it. I don’t know, maybe even if I had been more sickly, I still wouldn’t have dealt well with it! There were times, many times, when I wondered if it was even worth going through the treatments. I was spending way too much of my very limited time (my oncologist projected 4 months before I passed away) in bed, too sick to eat or drink or do anything except try to sleep away the misery.

At the same time as I was celebrating the fact that I was getting a break from chemotherapy, there was definitely some fear associated with quitting treatments! No treatments meant nothing was being done to hold those tumors at bay. Sure, they’d responded and shrunk some during treatments, but that was because we were bombarding them with poisons!

My doctor hoped that I could take a break from the chemo and that the tumors would stay stable or, if they grew, would do so slowly. Unfortunately, as we would discover when I had my next scan, his hopes were not realized. All of the progress we had made against the tumors was lost during the short time I was not receiving treatments.

As I sit here today, pondering my life and the fact that I am still here, I am grateful that I was diagnosed with my cancer when I was. It is sobering to think that if I had been diagnosed only one year earlier, I would probably be dead.

Stop and think about that for just a moment. It is hard to think about. And, many of us have friends and loved ones who have succumbed to the disease, even recently. They were diagnosed too soon to be saved. Why? Well, partly because lung cancer is a really tricky disease. You often don’t have symptoms until you have only months left to live. So, doctors are faced with an uphill battle because late-stage cancer is really difficult to treat.

Another reason why we are still losing way too many of those diagnosed with lung cancer is because it is so very severely underfunded. Researchers are making such tremendous progress in finding new ways to treat this insidious disease, but they are limited by the lack of money available to them. It boggles my mind to think about what they could be doing if they had the kind of money that breast cancer or prostate cancer gets each year.

So, the purpose of this post is two-fold. First, I want to thank everyone who generously gives to help fund research. You are quite literally lifesavers. If not for your heart and your help, people like me would not have had cutting-edge therapies to try when chemotherapy quit working. Thank you, thank you, thank you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

The second is that I want to encourage everyone to give to lung cancer research. It doesn’t have to be much. If everyone I know gave only $5 or $10, it would add up to a reasonable amount of money. If they shared with their friends and their friends gave only $5 or $10, the cost of a Starbucks and a donut, the funding would begin to snowball and just think of where we might be in finding … dare I say … cures … or, at least, therapies that could help treat this disease as a chronic illness instead of the killer it still is.

It hurts my feelings and boggles my mind that I have so much trouble getting people to give to this cause. It hurts my feelings because I take it very personally. It’s MY LIFE I am advocating for! Opdivo is keeping me alive right now. But, when it quits working, there is not another treatment for me to try. Selfishly, I want researchers well-funded so that I have some more options when that time comes.

It boggles my mind because even those who contact me and want me to pray for or talk to a loved one of theirs who has been diagnosed don’t give toward finding better therapies. If not those who either have someone living with or who has died from lung cancer, then who can we expect to help fund life-saving research?

Where can you donate? A few of the foundations that I support are:

Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Research Foundation

LUNGevity (if there is a way to designate that you’re donating on my behalf, please do!)

Lung Cancer Research Foundation (where Free to Breathe merged) – I will be posting a link to a donation site on my behalf soon)

Lung Cancer Alliance (if there is a way to designate that you’re donating on my behalf, please do!)

Cancer Research Institute (not lung cancer specific, but cutting edge in immunotherapy)

 

Advocating for Lung Cancer to Get “Equal Time”

I am on a forum with people who have all kinds of cancer. A lot of the members have had breast cancer so many posts there relate to issues concerning that disease.

Recently, someone posted a message saying that the federal government’s Office on Women’s Health (OWH) had deleted all references to breast cancer, despite once having a rather robust amount of information available. Those with breast cancer were quite upset about the information being removed. Honestly, I thought it was a little odd, too, that it would be removed.

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Get Off Your Duff and Get Moving!

There are a few articles hitting the news lately about how too much sitting contributes to a number of cancers. The reason for this spate of news is a talk given by Charles Matthews of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting held in Austin, TX in February 2018, “Unraveling the Relations Between Sedentary Behavior, Physical Activity and Health.” Matthews is in the process of helping rewrite the NCI’s 10-year-old exercise guidelines, based in part on what large epidemiologic studies using accelerometers are showing with regard to what constitutes beneficial exercise. (For anyone like me who doesn’t know what epidemiologic studies are – they are “studies of how often diseases occur in different groups of people and why.”1)

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Anxiety…An Unwelcome Visitor

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.

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