Thursday, January 5, 2012


First an update from my last post on 12/4:  The new drug is working well.  My lungs are almost all clear of water and I'm breathing much better.  The only side effect is fatigue, which I've had to manage with all of my other drugs and my taste buds are working again!  All in all, the signs look good so far!  Now...on to my blog! 

I guess I'm a little late for Happy New Year, but it's still January, so it still counts!  I checked to see when Dale started this blog and it was on August 1, 2010.  It's amazing how much has happened since then.  When we started the blog, it was like driving a car, but with no control over the steering wheel, brake or accelerator... it just slowed down, sped up and went all over the road whenever it wanted.  I know a lot of it had to do with all of the emotions that wash over you when you hear the words "You have cancer", but it was a scary ride!  The ride still has it's bumps, but at least we have a lot more control over it. 

I also looked at the posts we did in January, 2011 to see what we posted.  No resolutions, I'm sure due to the fact that we were back up under water and had found an island to rest on, but it was still interesting to see how much has changed. 

My sister, Katie, ran the half marathon at Disney in Orlando.  She had just turned 50 and raised over $5,000 for lung cancer research!  I wasn't able to join her and cheer her on, but I did my best to cheer her on from Mason.  At least a few of my other sisters got to join her. 

I was working in January, 2011, but had just been back a few weeks and still trying to get in the swing of things.  I was able to work at home most of the time due to my wonderful manager, Rhonda, and that helped a lot.  I still made the decision, however, in February to retire in April.  Life is too short and financially I could do it, so I did.  I'm glad I did even though I still miss everyone I worked with... I really do. 

Tony was also approved for SSDI in January of last year!  He had been fighting that battle since 2008 and was so happy to finally get approved.  And now he's engaged to be married in March!  Wow...things have changed!

Dale was still working jobs as a contrator and now he's a "real" employee at CHP and he really likes it a lot.  A regular pay check AND benefits!  Woo hoo!!

As I look back over 2011, I want to thank everyone who has read our blog, sent up SEE chants and prayers, and have supported us in every way possible.  I don't think we'd be where we are today if it wasn't for all of you and the wonderful healing vibes you send out daily.  I have no resolutions for 2012 except to keep practicing the things I've learned in the last year.
  • Don't worry about the past and make peace with it because you can't change it.
  • Don't worry about the future because you can't control it. 
  • Live in the present moment...the little things and the big things. 
  • Enjoy life.
  • Laugh as much as possible and does make you feel good. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More CT Scan Results - Good News/Bad News

I have the latest results from my CT scan which was done on 11/29.  The original tumor is now nothing but scar tissue [good news], but the newest spot on my lung [it showed up when the new spot showed up on my liver] and on my liver are still growing [bad news].  The spot on the lung only grew 1mm [good news], but the spot on my liver grew almost 2cm [bad news].  There is some plural effusion showing on the lower right lung which is caused by the cancer too [bad news].  It's not as bad as when I was diagnosed, but we don't want it to get any worse than it is now.  My bones are still doing well too [good news]. 

This means that I will get a different chemo drug as of tomorrow, Monday, 12/5.  The drug is called navelbine and the side effects I have to worry about most are a low white blood count and constipation.  [Sorry if that's TMI!]  If my white blood count gets too low they will just skip a week until it goes back up and I'll have to stay away from anyone who is sick. 

I can handle these side effects and I'm hoping my taste buds go back to normal soon.  Growing back in my hair will be nice too!  As you can see, the results are mixed, but we'll concentrate on the good news!!

All Hope Warriors need to keep chanting the S.E.E. chant and concentrate on the liver and the newest lung spot.  All prayers and good thoughts are welcome too! 


Thursday, November 17, 2011

November - Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and while I didn't want to post lung cancer facts all month [because that would annoy even me], I thought I should take time to post the facts in one blog just to try to raise awareness about this cancer with a stigma.

My sister Barb noticed that advocacy has picked up since I was diagnosed a year ago and I think it has to do with the fact that it's becoming a world wide crisis. While it is a known fact that smoking causes cancer, in some countries like the U.S., smoking has decreased tremendously and people like me who have never smoked are getting lung cancer. This means that there are other factors that cause it and since this the most underfunded of all cancers in regards to research - both public and private - something needs to be done.

Here are some lung cancer facts:

· Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer for men and women in the USA – it kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers – COMBINED.
oLung cancer is the second leading cause of all deaths in the United States.
oLung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in every ethnic group.
oAbout 213,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year and more than 160,000 die from it.
· Lung cancer kills almost twice as many women as breast cancer and more than twice as many men as prostate cancer. Lung cancer surpassed breats cancer as the #1 killer of women in 1987. Twice as many women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
· It remains the most under-researched and under-funded cancer, in spite of its tremendous impact on public health.
· Women who have never smoked appear to be at greater risk for developing lung cancer than men who have never smoked.
oOf never-smokers with lung cancer, women outnumber men three to one.
oOne in five women and one in twelve men diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.
oSignificant risk of lung cancer remains for 30 or more years after quitting smoking.
oNonsmoking-related causes of lung cancer include air pollution, radon gas, asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel, soot, tar, and other substances.
· A report last week estimated that 21,000 people annually die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon, which is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after tobacco use. About one in 15 homes have elevated radon levels, the report said.
· Lung cancer is the “black sheep” of cancers, and the only cancer where the victims are stigmatized and blamed for their disease.This is true despite the fact that an estimated 60% of new lung cancer diagnoses will be in non-smokers – a combination of former smokers, some who quit ten or twenty years ago, and people who have never smoked.

Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the world and we need to increase public sympathy for the disease, not just on behalf of the patients but also in order to secure vital funding for research into this truly awful disease. Whether they have smoked or not, no one deserves lung cancer.

I would definitely like to eliminate the stigma of lung cancer. When someone asks me what kind of cancer I have and I say lung cancer, in most cases I know exactly what they are thinking and whether they try to hide it or not, it's quite evident..."Did you smoke?" I do get sympathy because I never smoked, but I have found it doesn't one deserves lung cancer...or ANY cancer.

If you would like more information on lung cancer or cancer in general, check out some of these web sites. And thank you for letting me get up on my soap box for a day...I do appreciate it!
LUNG CANCER ALLIANCE                                      LUNGEVITY

STAND UP 2 CANCER                                              LIVESTRONG

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The Hope Warrior Sisters sponsored a Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Awareness Vigil tonight and this is what I shared as a lung cancer survivor. 

Since I was diagnosed with lung cancer in July, 2010, many people have told me that because of my strength, courage or positive attitude that I inspire them.  I realized, however, that no one has ever asked me what inspires me.  If anyone would have asked, the simple answer is YOU.  All of you in your own way have inspired me. 
What have you done to inspire me?
·       Those who send me emails to tell me what’s happening in their world because it’s not all about me.  Hearing about your lives makes me feel normal. 
·       Those who still send me cards to let me know they care and are thinking about me. 
·       Those who take me out to lunch, or make us a meal and bring it to our house, visit me, send me a text, call or write on my Facebook wall just to be let me know they care.
·       The kindness of strangers who let me go ahead of them in line or give me an extra 15% discount at the cash register because they’ve been where I am.
·        My family with their unwavering support and love, ready to do whatever they can to make my life easier.  Especially my husband, the best caregiver ever who makes me laugh when I need it most.  And my sisters, who are not only my best cheerleaders, but my chemo buddies and they put together wonderful events like this because they care.
·        All of the health care professionals in my life who have helped me heal my body, my mind and my soul. 
·        My oncologist and all of the nurses and aides at OH Care who have always been so helpful, kind and caring and they always have a smile and make me feel that I matter.
·        My therapist from Cancer Family Care who helps me through the emotional jungle of cancer and has helped me discover how to enjoy life and live in the moment.
·        My Guided Imagery coach who has helped me learn to relax and meditate and discover how powerful the mind can be over the body. 
·        The trainers at the TriHealth Cancer Exercise program who helped give me the energy and strength I need to face my daily battle.
·       And the other people I’ve met along my journey with cancer who all have their own stories of strength and survival that always inspires me to want to do more.
It’s all of YOU that inspire ME.  What you give to me, I give back to you.  I know you say I’ve touched your lives, but you have also touched mine which has helped me find the strength I need to continue on my journey and for that I thank you. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hair Today...Gone Tomorrow!

I started chemotherapy on August 11, 2010.  At that time I had all of my hair and like most females, I spent a lot of money on it. Cuts, coloring, products, curling irons...all of that stuff.  I liked my hair and after some miscues in the 80's with perms [I guess there was a lot of people with bad hair in the 80's], I was comfortable with it.  It was straight and shiny and healthy and I didn't have much grey.  What's not to like?

Actually, my kindergarten picture - except for the crooked bangs - shows that I haven't changed my hair style too much over the years.  A bob is always stylish! 

Yes, my mom cut my bangs, but didn't all mom's back in the 50's and 60's? I remember that at some point she used this pink tape to hold our bangs in place and then she'd cut a supposedly straight line. It wasn't always, but isn't that the charming part of this picture?

Of course, once I got into high school the style was long and straight so I was in luck.  I didn't have to wear the orange juice cans or use an iron on my hair.  It was already straight! 
I lost my hair the first time in September, 2010.  It was pretty traumatic for me.  My hair started falling out slowly and then it started coming out in big chunks, especially when I washed my hair.  I wasn't in a good place then, so it just made it scarier for me.  I finally had my sister-in-law, Jeanne, come over and shave my head just so I didn't have to deal with all of the hair in the shower.  Here's a picture of me without hair back in September, 2010 and then another one with my new wig.  I guess I thought the sunglasses made me look more glamorous! 

The first chemotherapy drug I took was stopped after 2 infusions because it wasn't working and my hair slowly started to grow back in.  I wore the wig a lot because I just wasn't comfortable with my bald head even though everyone told me I had such a nice shaped head.  By February, however, my hair was growing out and after Jeanne trimmed it up, it looked pretty good, so I started going without my wig.  It was fine and I liked it and it was curly!!!  I had curly hair!!  I had heard that this happens to some people who go through chemotherapy, but I just didn't expect it.  When my hair started to get longer, I went to have Jeanne cut it again and she asked me what she should do.  I told her that I never had curly hair...I had no clue!  In Jeanne's hands, however, my hair couldn't have been cuter.  I had hair again and I loved it!

I was getting use to my cute, short, curly hair when I had to change chemo drugs again in August, 2011.  I was told my hair would fall out again, but I didn't want it to go anywhere until after Gretchen's wedding.  I am happy to say that my hair held on - nothing was coming out the day of the wedding - until the next day.  It's like my hair knew the wedding was over and it could fall out...and fall out it did! 

This time it wasn't traumatic.  I had been there, done that.  At least I am still here - hair or no hair - and that is the most important part.    I have a new wig - it's short and curly like my chemo hair that grew back in - but I haven't worn it yet because it's just not cold enough to wear a wig.  I'm sure I will soon, but in the meantime, I wear my hats and would like to get a few more hats just because it's easier not to have to mess with wigs.  If you would have told me a year ago that I would be OK with my hair falling out again, I would not have believed you, but it's true. 

This is me and my bald head.  It's part of my journey and I'm glad I'm embracing it this time.  It's a lot more fun!  In fact, I think I should be Uncle Fester for Halloween...don't you?  Just put some black around my eyes and a lightbulb in my mouth and I'm set!   

Happy Halloween!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fund Raiser and Other Stuff

First, the FUNd raiser!  On September 1st, the Hope Warrior Sisters [Barb, Pattie and Liz], had a FUNd raiser for the Lung Cancer Alliance, similar to the one we had in June to raise money for MS [multiple sclerosis] at Cheers to Art!  The turn out was fantastic!  It was SOLD OUT, plus there was a waiting list.  Due to the sell out, $500 was raised for the LUNG CANCER ALLIANCE!

The Hope Warrior Sisters selected the "Wishing Flower" picture to paint since we are all wishing for a world without cancer.  It was so great to see so many family and friends and we even had a "cousins" table - me, Pattie, Liz, Jeannine, Mary and Sharon [a 7 year lung cancer surivor!].  It was fun, as always, and made me feel so good to see so many people come and support our cause.  I also have to give a shout out to Jenn Hardin for donating plenty of cupcakes.  They were dee-licious!  Especially the Red Velvet - one of my favorites.  Jenn owns Cinsational Sweet Treats so if you live in the Cincinnati area please check her out. 

As always, we are grateful for finding out what a wonderful place Cheers to Art is and have enjoyed many sessions there.  The owners, Jill and Mike Carroll, are wonderful people and we've even made Jill an honorary "sister". 

Here are a few pictures from the event.

As you can see, we had a full house!  Lots of great looking Wishing Flowers!

More of the group!  I am sitting on the floor with my ball cap and to the right of me in the green shirt is my cousin Sharon [7 year lung cancer survivor]! 

I think everyone did a great job!  Some of us painted white flowers since white is the color of the cancer ribbon for lung cancer. 

The Hope Warrior Sisters!  I thought I had one with our 'honorary' sister, Jill, but I couldn't find it. 

Left to right:  Barb, Jackie, Pattie and Liz.

Two free painting sessions were given out and we had a goodie bag with information about lung cancer, writing your federal representative about the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act and information on the Shine a Light Vigil taking place on November 1st in Blue Ash, Ohio at the Blue Ash Shelter. 

Now on to the other stuff....
People were wondering if everything was OK because the last post was from Dale in August.  I'm sorry if anyone worried, but everything is fine.  I have found that it is harder to stick to a schedule in the blogging world than I thought possible.  The other thing is that when I said this would be updated weekly I was on the chemo drug gemzar and I was feeling good almost all of the time.  After my last CT scan, I started getting a different chemo drug called taxotere.  This drug is more toxic than the newer chemotherapy drugs and it has been a challenge to feel "good" all of the time.  I was getting thrush, but that's been controlled now by medication.  Taxotere also makes you extremely fatigued and it's really messing with my taste buds [everything either tastes bad or not the same - nothing tastes satisfying] and just a general feeling of bluckiness.  Generally, I've felt like crap and with just 3 treatments it's not always been for the same amount of time.  So...with the new chemo drug in mind, I will just let you know that I will post when I am able and I'm feeling OK.  Hopefully that will be more often than it has been since the beginning of August!

Please continue the S.E.E. chants, dances, prayers, good thoughts and vibes especially on Monday, September 26th when I get my next CT scan.  I don't know when I will get the results, but I will let you know when I do! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An Update from Dale

I'm back!

Jackie has told me that there has been some interest in having a 'dale' entry in the blog again, so here, for your dining and dancing pleasure, is...

it's been a very busy month we're just winding down.

like all the rest, some good things, and some not so good things.

Jackie got her first dose of the new chemo, taxotere a couple of weeks ago.
does number two is coming up this Monday.

it's not as bad as the first batch, but not as good as chemo 2 or chemo 3.
(the cat in the hat had it easy, he only had to keep track of thing 1 and thing 2, we're up to #4)

this is one of those, bark of the pacific Yew tree, family of chemo.
so this one required more work for me too.

i had to plant and water the trees, watch them grow.
(much easier then Jackie's part, to go out in the back yard and chew to bark from them suckers!!!)

it's been an adjustment, she was very tired, had headaches, and some dizziness.
(the later required a quick trip for an MRI at B-North last week.

Jackie's sister Liz just got a new house.
finally out of an apartment and into a home of their own.

she's all moved in, the house warming was the other week, (after it was finally not 90 degrees)
so maybe a house cooling? or just not a house boiling!

she's got enough room, that she'll be able to start doing some of her second job actually there in the house.  (as soon as they can get the pole attached to the ceiling in the living room, that is)

Barb, the Hope Warrior Princess, had a party last week for her son Jake's graduation.
(she swears that it was not because they were waiting for the school to call back with a great big, "No you Di-int!")

another chance to get the family together, celebrate a positive step, and drink beer... more to come on that one!

from what I'm hearing it seems that Jake will be heading into fireguy studies in the next couple of months!

yes, I'm still employed!
I've even had a couple of trips out of town for training, Columbus, OH, and Verona, WI.
from what i saw at the Epic facility in WI, i found out that
a. the digitization of medical records is a lucrative endeavor
b. 90% of all construction in the state of Wisconsin is happening in Verona

this past weekend was Gretchen and Brian's re-wedding.
(OK, for you guys that aren't aware, they got married in the Dominican Republic in July, this weekend was the big party and Restating of the vowels.
(and a few consonants)

it was a great!

excellent time, enjoyed by all,
George (my brother) and his family came down from Chicago and stayed with Jackie and I.

much fun, much happiness, and a weekend of beer.

brought a tear to my eye!
(and the wedding stirred up my emotions too!)