Thursday, April 28, 2016

Riding the SRS Train

Well, another little bugger showed up on my MRI. The good news is that it's small (5mm) and we caught it early so SRS (stereotactic radiosurgery) is a great option again. Also, the Xalkori is still working great on the rest of my body - I've been on it for 2.5 years, which is pretty remarkable.

I go in tomorrow for the planning session. The other upside is that the cancer center has a brand-spankin'-new machine which does NOT use the Frankensteinesque drills-into-your-skull frame. I'll get a better look at the fancy new tech tomorrow.

What a surreal thing this stage IV life is.

So, I'm back on the SRS train. Just hope it keeps on chugging along for a long time.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Day I Never Expected to See With Metastatic Cancer

This weekend I celebrated a day I never expected to see – my fortieth birthday! It has been almost three years since that awful day when I found out that I had lung cancer that had spread throughout my body. In those days, I was so very sick and weak that I couldn't imagine living for another six months, let alone entering my 40s. ...continue reading...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Parenting with a Chronic Illness

My daughter shared her cold with me (thanks, Miks) and when you mix a simple cold with a "chronic disease" like metastatic lung cancer, well it pretty much knocks me out. I've spent most of the day lying on the couch. After I picked up Zander from school, I immediately lay back down on the couch without taking off my coat or anything.

Zander froze and stared at me lying on the couch and then said,

"It makes me feel like your cancer is growing again."

I reminded him that I just had scans and the cancer is so small they can barely see it.

"I know, but it makes me nervous to see you sick."

He was only 4-turning-5 when I was diagnosed and SUPER sick, and he says he doesn't really remember those days, but I think on some level it has stayed with him.


Also, my apologies that I have neglected this lovely blog for so long. Things are good with my health, the latest MRI showed that the SRS worked super well, so the plan is to keep chugging along with Xalkori and if anything else pops up we will zap it again. All of my creative energy has been going toward getting our Pointless Brewery & Theatre up and running. Things are going super well there, and it has been SO MUCH FUN! A wise person said to me that, in addition to the fulfillment of a dream, this business is a kind of self-care for me, a way to envision the future in a way that is less painful and uncertain than my own future. I think she is correct.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Day 30: Jamie Shull, advocate. "Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer."

Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015

Day 30: Jamie Shull, advocate
"Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer."

I am happy to connect you all with lung cancer advocate Jamie Shull.

Jamie will be quite thrilled when lung cancer is a manageable, chronic disease, that keeps people living and living well.

She feels strongly, “Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.” That is the message she spreads.

The cancer bomb exploded into Jamie’s life when her husband of 18-years, Kurt, was diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer in December 2010. She took on the roll as primary caregiver doing what ever it took to ensure the best care for her husband and their 14-year-old son. First line treatment took nearly everything out of Kurt. Unwilling to accept the way things were headed, Jamie, using her superior “get-shit-done” skills, found a clinical trial at a local teaching hospital – a turning point for Kurt as well as lung cancer as a whole.
...continue reading...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Day 29: Genevieve de Renne, caregiver. "Never underestimate the power of love, and the power of your own thoughts."

Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015

Day 29: Genevieve de Renne, caregiver

"Never underestimate the power of love, and the power of your own thoughts."

How long have you been a caregiver?
"If you are just talking about being a lung cancer caregiver, it has been a little more than nine years since you were diagnosed the first time. If you define being a caregiver as being there for someone unconditionally, it started when I was a single mom, and then when I was a caregiver for my parents in their later years."

What was it like in the beginning?
"I was in an emotional haze. It’s gut-wrenching to see your loved one go through something like this, and to know that there’s nothing you can do. I had no control, and it was challenging for me. I wasn’t prepared for how quickly I could go to straight to fear."
...continue reading...

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Day 28: Dr. Alice Shaw. "Alice is my super-hero."

Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015

Day 28: Dr. Alice Shaw
"Alice is my super-hero."

(From Linnea Olson's blog, Outliving Lung Cancer)

Alice and I met under what then felt like sad circumstances. It was the spring of 2009 and I was several months into my snatched from the brink of death fairy tale; aka crizotinib. As far as I was concerned (and I still feel this way), my original oncologist Dr. Tom Lynch walked on water. However, I woke up one morning only to read in the Boston Globe that Tom was leaving MGH to become the head of Yale’s Smilow Cancer Center. I was devastated and sent him a quick message saying I felt like he’d broken up with me via email. In my head I was already thinking I’d have to move closer to New Haven as I viewed my continuing survival to be inextricably linked to Tom Lynch–as an oncologist he was always on the cutting edge, having tested me for an EMLK4-ALK translocation in June of 2008, long before most of the world had even heard of an ALK mutation.
...continue reading...

Friday, November 27, 2015

Day 27: Dave Bjork, survivor. "It’s all about relationships."

Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015

Day 27: Dave Bjork, survivor
"It’s all about relationships."
Twitter: @bjork5

Who is Dave?
I am a lung cancer survivor, and I am a passionate advocate for cancer research and education. Professionally I’m the Vice President of Development for the National Foundation for Cancer Research in Bethesda, Maryland. In my role I advocate for funding important research projects led by scientists at places like Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), MD Anderson, Dana Farber and so many others. Among the researchers that I am very vocal about, and that are supported by my organization in the area of lung cancer, are Drs. Daniel Haber and Alice Shaw at MGH, and Dr. Jin Jen at Mayo Clinic.

What is your connection to lung cancer?
I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was 34 years old, married with 3 young boys age 5, 3 and 1, and I had never smoked. I received amazing treatment at Mass. General Hospital by thoracic surgeon Dr. Doug Mathisen among others. I had a lobectomy to remove my lower left lobe, and was fortunate that there was no spread of disease. I have been forever grateful and am committed to advocating for more research for lung cancer.
...continue reading...