Tiny little boxes, space & one year later.

A year ago today I was in a hospital bed with several doctors around me. With a mound of papers with tiny little boxes to fill out.  I was clearly confused and didn’t want to stay, but they made me. I had to have a bronchoscope put down my nose and throat to rule out cancer.  That’s right; I went into the ER to get some medicine for what I thought was bronchitis, but they found a mass in my lungs instead and told me that I had pneumonia and that I needed several tests to find out what was going on with me. As I sit here today I think back to that night and just can’t even begin to explain the emotions that go along with it. The fear that has harbored down into me, the everyday stress of is it coming back, is it gone? As to the day after (because I get a little ahead of myself) It was confirmed I had stage 3A lung cancer, it had spread to my lymph nodes and I needed a good team to take care of me. Here we come Dr. Nancy DiMartino and staff!! Chemo and radiation x’s 32 rounds. It sucked. And even now, I am sick, I have what is known as radiation pneumonitis. It usually happens after radiation, but I kept a nasty cough after I was done and it never went away, turning into the reg kind of pneumonia. Then this nasty thing came along…. Anyhow, moving along… Every 3 months I have CT scans and blood work every 4-6 weeks along with port flushes, so you see I never get a break from cancer. I live and breathe cancer ever single waking day. I am afraid every day, I am nervous every day, I see my scars everyday, whether from my port, or my mastectomy… I cry almost every single time I take a shower because its loud and no one hears me pouring my heart out in there. Although my partner knows me, and gives me that space. 

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A year ago today I was waiting on The Walking Dead to come on channel AMC and at the hospital they had it, but the nurse kept coming in and out taking my vitals, my phone wouldn’t pick up a signal and the regular telephone in the room was ringing off the hook. I laid in that bed petrified for the next morning, knowing what was seen on the CT and MRI I had the same night…. I just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to have to tell my kids.  I didn’t want to lose my hair or have to fill out a box on pprwork for the rest of my life that says “If you or someone in your family has cancer check here”  Now, I do. And its like a giant slap in the face. A year ago I wasn’t checking that box, it was left alone. And now my heart is ripped out EVERY time I look at it on paper. It just hurts.

 And I never got to see that damn episode of The Walking Dead. 😦  

Oh, and then there are those who are there and they try and understand it, or;  it or they dismiss it like its going to get better, or that you’re healed. (After chemo and rad) You are just miraculously saved. It doesn’t work that way. Its always there, lurking,  hiding somewhere. Cancer sucks. In fact I hate it with every fiber of my being. I wish I could move past it, let it just be. So I have it, who cares?? And just go on.. But its not that simple. I get winded easily, I’m tired, I want to sleep and I can’t. I want a cure. That’s all. 

But if you told me a year ago that I was going to be told when I left my house that morning I had cancer, I think I would have stayed home. Everything that comes with it is so consuming. I would rather have my life back, the happy one, without appointments constantly and filling in tiny little boxes that say “cancer”. Because for me, I think that had I NOT known, that was my normal life, just a cold, or bronchitis, I could deal with all that, just not this. And I have so many friends with cancer, Its NOT fair. I hate it. For them, for me. But what I don’t want anyone to get twisted is that fact that I won’t give up. Even though I hate it, I WON’T give up. Ever. Its not in me to roll over and play dead or whatever else my brain wants to do when its just spent. Emotionally I am a wreck, but I will keep going. Because a year ago, I thought I was just going in to have my chest looked at and it be a cold or bronchitis, now I know that its not and I have to fight. I have been put through the ringer since my diagnosis, and I keep going, my kids need me. My partner needs me,  My mom needs me. I need them, So I have some fighting to do. Just have to wipe the mascara off my face and keep going.  

 

 

For Charlotte~

This is my story of Charlotte, a true inspiration of faith, hope & love in friendship (if you will) in a chemo room. I first met Charlotte in chemo, sitting in what I thought was my chair, although I quickly learned it was hers.. she was and is as hard headed as me. I loved being in the very back of the room, in the corner, secluded. It was a safe place if that makes sense, not around others to ask questions and bother me about my age my dx, and why I was there… not that I wasn’t there for the same reason as the others in the same room as me… but I just felt better back there. And obviously she did too.  The only difference between us was she has small cell lung cancer (also called oat cell) [ http://www.mylungcancersupport.org/learn-about-lung-cancer/lung-cancer-basics.html ]  and I have non small cell lung cancer. She is fighting for her life right now and I am beyond sad. I feel its completely unfair. IFHC.  She is so completely and utterly amazing. In my eyes, I see her as a warrior. Not myself. 

As I scoot along here, we would have our chemo and talk about our kids and her grand kids and her hardworking husband and how he just loves her to the ends of the earth… while giggling over her cute sneakers and how we both loved the color purple [the actual color, not the movie, however its good too] we would joke about how we have to write everything down because of chemo brain and we forget everything!! UGH! But it was just so hilarious the nurses would laugh at us and want to know what was so funny, we just “clicked”… I remember us taking selfies and becoming closer and closer… then it was time for her to move on and go to radiation. I missed seeing her everyday, damnit! But, we kept up on texting and calls. Thankful for this, I made sure to continue to ask how she was and her to check in on me…. She took some time for herself and for her family to vacation and spend time together, as she really deserved it. What really stuck out for me was when she came to see me on her last week of being at chemo… she passed the torch as she explained, and passed her chair to me, wrote me a letter, decorated my area in ALL PURPLE, made me dress up in purple boas and then gave me a few small gifts in purple… such a giving, loving woman! She is just a wonderfully upbeat, caring friend. And I have had the privilege to know her. 

What I’m trying to say here is, I am blessed. Because even though she tries to say that I am the fighter and brave and strong and all the things that she is… Charlotte is MORE.  And now she is in the fight of her life, clinical trials, medicines to keep her comfortable. Cancer is the most terrible thing I can even think of, since my diagnosis it’s everywhere, kind of like when you buy a new car you see it practically everywhere you turn… now I see this disease everywhere. But we don’t give up just like that. We keep going. We fight until its over. And right now, its NOT over. You see; Charlotte refuses to give up or go down without a fight or plan of action. She just got the news that her stupid cancer is back with a vengeance. BUT– she has her boxing gloves on with her dangly earrings and is ready for the fight, the fight of her life. Personally I don’t know how she does it, I did 7 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, she has done SOOOOOOO much more than that and I thought it was torture. THIS is why I call her amazing! Because its so true! Charlotte, you are a hope, and an inspiration to so many others fighting this fight. Keep it up girl, I am BEYOND proud to know you, and even more of being your friend.   charlotte I love you~ 

3 dayz down.

So radiation and chemo isn’t a ton of fun, but it could be worse so far anyway…. I love my doctors and I love my nurses that take care of me. I am blessed to be where I am I suppose. I am blessed that they found this awful shit inside me. I am going to go to treatment 5 days a week for 8 weeks and then re analyze whats up with my body. I am on two chemo medications, one being Cisplatin, and the other being Etoposide (VP-16). Talk about making you feel drained, sick and just YUCK! But so far, I am still hanging on… I have made a few pretty cool buddies in there and one was so scared to come in but I was able to calm her down, she is a breast cancer patient… *so sweet*! We became FB friends same day! That kinda cracked me up, but she has the kindest heart. We share some of the same things as well, as to I had a mastectomy back in 2012 due to my BRCA status… And, I can NOT forget my girls that spend countless hours updating my website when I am am IN my chemo chair and kinda in “fog land” So I will name them here…Laura, Emily, Emily, Shannon, Katie, Christal, THESE girls mean the world to me right now. They are there when I can’t be, when I need it updated or whatever… they are just there. Cause they are awesome! They are sending me sweet gifts to get me by, Facetiming me during chemo… texting me constantly to see if I am alright… they are just the best. Period. Dot. The End. I love them more than what they know I think. To see what hard work they contribute to, follow this link to my page on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/Andthisizmylife  Here is a pic of me on day one, day two, and then a funky pic of my awesome admins on Andthisizmylife FB style! 🙂 
 

Day one, nervous but full of feel good stuff...

    Day one, nervous but full of feel good stuff…


Myself and Anna Banana! Love this nurse!

Myself and Anna Banana! Love this nurse!


My admins on Andthisizmylife via FB! Love them more than they know!

My admins on Andthisizmylife via FB! Love them more than they know!

 

My head is spinning.

So now I have a real definitive diagnosis, stage IIIA lung cancer. Well; shit, it went from learning to having to go to classes an hour-long for RT (radiation therapy) and Chemo this week, then my port surgery this Friday… then here we go to RT and chemo next week! OMG! My mind is mush, my heart is crushed, and I feel like I could puke at any given second. This my friends, is bullshit! What if I said I wasn’t ready for this fight? I wasn’t ready to sit in a chair for over an hour at a time and puke with special cookies being handed out?  And When does this damn anger go away?!?!  I feel more than bipolar, I feel so beyond batshit crazy… one second I feel strong, able to get through this, then I feel sad and like I’m falling apart. Normal for this, no? What IS normal anyway? What are we supposed to feel during being staged and during treatment? I assume it’s all relatively normal, but I am hating every second. However, it could be worse. I won’t give up, I won’t give in to the devil that is eating my lungs. I need them. I am just so fucking MAD! I want to feel strength again and love and most of all HOPE. It’s just all happening so fast. I feel like I was just at my daughters basketball game coughing and said “I really need to get this looked into” and BAM, I have cancer… my head is just not right, it’s just spinning in fact. This can’t be real. I’m scared.                                                                   fuck_lung_cancer_postcards_package_of_8

How many sleeps left? IDGAF…

So tired of waiting, so tired of the word “Cancer” It went from finding out what stage on the 16th, to now the 20th… my mind is about to explode! Just tired.   And,  you know what else sucks, when everyone else thinks you’re strong but you’re not. You are depressed as hell. I feel so up and down its fucking ridiculous. Finding out that a friend that is helping you every step of the way has two cancers breaks your heart in five billion pieces is torture.  When I found out I had to pick myself up off the floor in a puddle of tears, she nor no one deserves this shit. She has two beautiful sons. A family… just bullshit.  She is so giving, loving and supportive of me just to keep her own mind off her own pain. But I know it, I know this… its a coping mechanism.  So to say the least no, I am not fine. I am a mess. I just want to crawl in my bed, under my soft blankets and stay there until after this is all done. But before slipping under my blankets; swallow my meds the right way and just SLEEP. But, just how many sleeps  you say??  tumblr_l2imrdwqNk1qzcdx6o1_500            

because the answer is the same, I have cancer. What stage, I do care, but I still have cancer, it cannot be cured. BUT  it cannot be a winner. It just sucks so bad. Drawing up a will, looking into the future and not knowing what it holds… its just so draining. As I close though, I want to say, I am blessed. For the life that I have now, for the friends that I have in my life, for my children and for anything else that I am missing that make me happy (like sweet tea and soft blankets). Things might start changing though pretty soon… Keep your eyes watching. 😉

Its getting real. Really real.

So the EBUS   is right around the corner and my nerves are SHOT! Having this done on the 9th, at 11… they say it’s around a two hour procedure but that I must have an EKG and more labs and possibly an MRI or CT before I go back?! Good grief! Stick a fork in me, I’m done. I am ready beyond words to get treatment and get on with my life, I am beyond words ready to hear the oncologist tell me the results as to whether I am stage 1 or 3. BEYOND ready. I just want this out of me. Or I just want to FIGHT  to get this out of me. Ya know? Tired of feeling okay, then angry, then sad, then happy, then lord… kinda feeling like its my bipolar disorder but not really… just way off the charts. I just want to feel better. I mean, who wants to cough until they cough blood while shopping at a the local Wal-Mart or a nurse actually ask you to cover your “germy cough” while you are with your sick daughter in the hospital as she is having her appendix out and you just want to throat punch her because even though, EVEN THOUGH she is doing her job, she is assuming I am just sick… like with a cold and I’m not. ITs lung cancer ya jerk. Its pneumonia due to lung cancer that won’t go away until we get this mass outta my chest, and work on the rest of me. So shut the hell up already!!  That’s how I feel…. 

Don’t you know I know that it sucks to be around me? To hear me hacking? To not want to reach out and cry? But ya have to try to be strong for me, it’s all that I ask… cause I will fall apart in the blink of an eye right now. But with this all said, I am still ready. Just be ready for me, to come out fighting. Cancer changes a person, but it will not change my spirit. I know what I mean when I say that. So for me, when I say it’s getting real, it’s getting really real. Things are changing, but I’ll be okay. In fact, I’ll be better than okay. I am going to stay me, I may look different, but I will hold on to that hope that is there in my heart and in my soul. Hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!  I.Am.Ready. 

I’ll take BRCA2+ & “You have Lung Cancer”, Alex.

 

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 Bear with me as I ramble with this post. Its all new and scary to me. Let me first start with cancer sucks. It sucks so terribly, its painful, it tears people up… BUT; there ARE strong ones out there, amazingly BRAVE WARRIORS. I have always had such admiration for them.  Cancer still though, sucks…. 

  Let me catch you up to speed with my story…  After what I thought was just pneumonia after 3+ weeks,  I went to the E.R. and was put through multiple tests.  First, chest x-ray, then lots of blood work, then they ask for consents to draw more blood…. I instantly feel my nerves begin to fray… Of course then here comes radiology to ask me to follow for CT with contrast… then 3 hrs later; not what I wanted to hear… “Leanna, we are afraid to tell you that you have a mass on your right lower lobe approximately 1 1/2 in and we are concerned for you, please think of staying to get this looked into further in the morning… ” I sat there petrified in my skin, thinking how this could be happening was just wrong. No, not me.. I did all that I could, I was preventative, I had a PBM two years earlier, I had a hysterectomy, I became a “Previvor”.. but now you tell me I have a mass on my lung??! No, just no. I just cried. I called home, explained to my family what was going on, I stayed overnight and then had a bronchoscopy the next morning had biopsies taken from multiple places (weirdest feeling ever while IV consciously sedated) and waited… Four days went by… slowly, my mind was racing, I wasn’t sleeping, I was scared. Fear is awful. Then at around 9am that fourth morning *3/12/15* my pulmonary specialist called me and asked to see me in his office before I was to see my oncologist that day at 4pm… I was nauseated. We drove to his office at 1 pm where I was told those  words no one ever wants to hear… ” As you could tell by my voice on the phone it wasn’t wonderful, Leanna, its malignant.. your test results are malignant…” I fell to my knees. My partner holding my hands the entire time.  This is NOT fair. Bullshit. TOTAL BULLSHIT. Why? after all I have given and now you want my fucking lungs? Fuck you cancer. You will not win.  Yet the anger remains. I will fight, I will not give in, I may have bad days, I may feel sad, I may feel lots of emotions.. but as I breathe, I will hope…  so after a pet scan, MRI with and without contrast, more labs I am now waiting to see a surgeon to have a mediastinoscopy to have my nodes checked. So lets play a game,   I’ll take BRCA2+ with a side of Lung Cancer please, Alex. But,  I WILL win this one.