"I have to be able to look my kids in the eye at the end of my life and say, 'I gave it my best.'"
In July of 2014, I had the upper lobe of my left lung removed. There was a tumor. The doctor was certain it was cancer. We just didn’t know if it was a new cancer or if the breast cancer returned. Three days later, the surgeon came to my room and told me it was metastatic breast cancer. Ironically, on this exact day, I thought I was going to be celebrating my tenth year of being cancer free. Instead, I went from stage II to stage IV.
At this same time, I was having some other serious health issues. Three days after being discharged to home health care for the lobe removal, I was back in the hospital. I was dying from both severe Crohn’s disease and colitis. That had me in the hospital for about three weeks. I was, and still, am in a battle daily with the three C’s.
On my good days, I am able to get things done at home, go to church, go shopping and visit friends. On my bad days, my home and bathroom are my best friends. The Alpena Cancer Center is my second home. I am there every four weeks for labs, to see my oncologist and get two shots – one in each hip. I get Faslodex for the cancer treatment – so far it is working. Doc says it’s the best they can give me. This is what I have been doing for two years, this month. I go an hour and a half one way for these treatments.
I need to show my kids that I live by what I have taught them. We always told them no matter what, do your best. I have to be able to look my kids in the eye at the end of my life and say, “I gave it my best.”
Every six weeks, I go to the same cancer center and get Remicade for the Crohn’s and colitis. This is administered in my port. I have to get two prep drugs first because I am now on the strongest dose they can give. Instead of every eight weeks, they had to switch me to every six weeks.
I never know how I will feel. After the shots, I have to do a lot of walking to work the medicine in, but my hips are really starting to hurt. With the Remade, I am so tired after that, all I want to do is sleep. They give me a steroid beforehand, so I am ballooning up, but at least I am alive.
God has been so good through all this. All three of my doctors work together to combat the challenges I face. Every decision affects each other.
Some days, I just want to stop everything and see what happens, but I know how seriously ill I was two years ago. I was not expected to live. My children were 9 and 10 in 2004, when I was initailly diagnosed. They were 19 and 20 when I was diagnosed again. All they have known is me being sick, but they have seen me give it my best.
I want to show them that with God, you can do anything, no matter the challenge. Quitting is really not an option. My favorite bible verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” This is what helps me through the struggles when I just want to quit.
If you are newly diagnosed, be proactive. In the beginning, I wouldn’t read anything; now I do. I question; I am careful to use a right attitude and not attack, but I need to know. This is my body, my life. I have a say. If you don’t like a doctor, get a different one, get a second opinion.
For me, I need to show my kids that I live by what I have taught them. We always told them no matter what, do your best. If you get a D on the test but you did your absolute best, then that is ok. Well, this is my test. I have to be able to look my kids in the eye at the end of my life and say, “I gave it my best.” I have to be able to tell God, “You put me on a hard path.” I had some struggles and moments of wanting to quit but I didn’t. I did my best.
Love your family and friends, let them help when they want, do what you can when you can, cry and mourn. Then get up, laugh and enjoy what you do have. Someday, they will conquer this. Maybe my son and daughter will see a major breakthrough in their lifetimes.