Posts tagged as:

Cancer

Hey, Karl here.

After a couple of voicemails left for Lisa and not hearing back, which is unusual for her, I called the Dude a little bit ago and found out the reason. She’s not going to be returning phone calls any more, nor emails. No more Tweets from her.

She’s in the final, final stages now, people. So out of her mind with pain and drugs that she often doesn’t even recognize her husband or children. Dude says it’ll be “lucky” if she makes it through the weekend, though he also says it’ll be luckier if God takes her away sooner. She’s that bad.

I’d been riding her to get a “last post” done, but it doesn’t look like that happened. There’s a fragment of a post she was working on, which I’ll post here soon, but there won’t be any more posts from Lisa beyond that.

Those of you that live locally to Lisa and her fam, I know Dude and the kids would appreciate any meals brought over, since the last thing on Dude’s mind is cooking dinner right now. Everything is on hold now, just waiting for the final moment, and Dude is doing everything he can just to keep it together.

He says that the kids are taking it much better than he is.

My heart is just breaking. From here on out, I won’t be posting updates about Lisa on my blog…I’ll keep you posted here, of course. I’ve been getting an inordinate amount of traffic and email from you folks hoping to hear news. I answer it all, but it may not be instantaneous.

If you’re of the praying sort, pray that Lisa doesn’t suffer much more. Pray for her family.

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Keep On Blogging

by Lisa on September 26, 2008

in It Is What It Is

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow

Three years ago when I started this blog I kept it very private and it was my intention to keep it that way.  I had no idea that there were other bloggers out there either.  I knew nothing about the blogging community or the fact that it existed.  All I knew was that I had this angst inside and it needed an outlet.

In the beginning I lived in fear that people I knew, like family, friends and co-workers would find my blog.   I’m not sure how they would have found it or how they would have known it was me writing though.  I never used my real name or posted my picture.  Yet, I was concerned what people would think if they found out how I feeling on a given day.

After a year of blogging anonymously I got brave and decided to a public blog for my local newspaper called Not the C-Word.  It was supposed to be a blog all about cancer and my experience with cancer.  What I never bet on was that I would get cancer a second time.

I also never bet on a lot of old friends finding me through that blog.  Suddenly I started getting a lot of email from people I hadn’t hear from in 25 years.  Then clients from work found that blog and I felt paralyzed with writer’s block.

Since I was having such a difficult time recovering from second fight with cancer I decided to shut Not the C-Word down.  I was having an emotional meltdown and felt like I couldn’t write about it in the local, public eye.  Besides, I never felt like I could truly be myself in that blog because I was on public display.

While I had the public blog though I always maintained this blog.  This was my hiding place where I could stamp my feet and have complete meltdowns.  This is the place where I let it all out…however things have changed a lot for me.

I no longer blog under a fake name but I blog under my real name.  That might bite me in the ass some day but I’m willing to live with it.

All of my family and friends know about this blog…even my mom (Hi Mom!).  I’ve now let everyone in.  It occurred to me that my remaining time may be shorter than theirs and I wanted them to have this piece of me…just in case.

But that’s what this blog is…a piece of me.  It’s not the totality of me.  Sometimes when I write a post it’s an update.  Other times I may write about what’s going through my mind at that moment so that I can let it go.

What I never expected was that anyone would really read the jumbled crap that runs through my mind.  When people leave comments saying that I’ve inspired them or made them re-think something in their lives, I’m completely blown away.

I’m also very humbled.

All I’m doing is living my life and sharing parts of it with you.  The fact that it affects anyone, in a positive way is a gift and inspires me to keep blogging.  And I’ve needed that inspiration because I’ve thought about giving it up lately on several occasions.

I have to be true to myself.  I have good days and bad days.  If I’m going to keep blogging then I’m going to share them both in order to stay true to who I am.  Lately, I’ve been hiding on the bad days because I haven’t wanted to let anyone down.

I’m letting myself down because when I started this blog three years ago I made the commitment to write no matter what.  I’d like to keep that commitment.   I’d also like to keep blogging.

What keeps you blogging?

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Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once. ~Lillian Dickson

From the moment I was diagnosed with cancer for the third time my view on life has changed dramatically.  I used to be one of those kind of people that asked, “why me?” when something bad happened.  I also used to think that God was always punishing me.

I know that depression played a big role in how I viewed life and myself.  It’s can be an ugly monster in that regard.  Last year around this time I was fighting depression related to my second fight with cancer, asking “why me?” and feeling as if God had punished me by making me go through six painful surgeries.

Not only was were those self-defeating thoughts but they lead me down a self-destructive path.  Fortunately, I got the help I needed to put me on a positive and healthier path.  Had I not, I’m not so sure I would have been able to accept the news that I had cancer again six months later as easily as I did.

In the last six months I’ve never asked “why me?”.  Why not me?  I’m not anyone special.  Cancer can happen to anyone.

I don’t know how much time I have left to live but I’m grateful that I’ve been given the gift to see life differently while I’m still here.

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Struggling

by Lisa on September 13, 2008

in Cancer Sucks, Depression

And remember, no matter where you go, there you are. ~Confucius

All of my life I’ve had an ongoing struggle with my weight.  There have been times when I’ve been self-accepting and it hasn’t bothered me.  Then there have been other times when it’s haunted me and made me feel extremely ugly.

I’ve tried every diet on the market.  In fact if I named them all, this would become a very lengthy post.  I’ve spent thousands of dollars over the past 20 years trying to become thin.  A lot of money wasted and a lot of shame in failed attempts.

I found success once and lost 125 pounds.  It didn’t cost me a thing but the diet was extremely rigid.  No sugar or white flour.  I weighed and measured everything.  I ate a predetermined amount of exchanges at each meal, for example at breakfast I had one dairy exchange, two grains and one fruit…no exceptions.

I reached my goal weight a little over a year and then got pregnant with Teenie.

I’ve been every size from size 10 to size 28.  In fact my closet is about to burst from the amount of different size clothing I have.  I think that it’s time to give a lot of my clothes away to Goodwill.

When I reach age 40 I conceded to the fact that I’m just a plus-sized woman and accepted it.  It made my life more peaceful and made me feel a lot better about myself.  Still, I have days when it plays with my self-esteem.  I realize that there are people who judge me based on my size.

Lately, I’ve been really struggling.  The steroids I’m taking for chemotherapy have blown up my face.  There are mornings when I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize myself.  My face and eyes are so swollen and round.  I’ve gained 15 pounds.  Most days I barely eat because I feel sick.

It’s left me feeling depressed and ugly.  It’s also affecting me in other ways.  I don’t want to leave the house or see anyone.  I find myself warning family and friends before we get together, “You should know that I look like a beached whale!”

I realize that after I’m off the steroids my face will go back to normal and the extra weight will go away.  It doesn’t help me to feel good when I’m already bald with no eyelashes.  Now, that’s a picture I need to take.

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Facing Myself

by Lisa on August 16, 2008

in Cancer Sucks, Depression

Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart. ~Kahlil Gibran

One day back in March when I suspected that I had cancer again I decided to take a picture of myself because you know what they say, a picture says a thousand words.  After I uploaded the picture and took a good look at it I was astonished.  I could actually see a big difference in my skin tone, skin texture and face from a picture I had several months earlier.

If you take a look at the March picture, you will notice that I criticize my face for how ugly it looks.  Prior to posting that picture I really never posted that many pictures of myself on my blog or Flickr but not for the reasons you might think.

I used to keep my blog anonymous with a pseudonym and no pictures because I was a college student and worked full-time.  Since I tend to write about how I feel, about my emotions and keep it real, I was afraid if anyone discovered my blog they would dismiss my intelligence and judge me based on my emotions.

Honestly, I’m the one who was my own worst critic, harshest judge and quickest to dismiss myself.  Although I’d love to say that I turned 40 and had a middle-aged epiphany, like a maturity button clicked on or something it didn’t happen like that all.  Especially, since I turned 40 a year and a half ago.

I wish I could say I became totally self-accepting of myself after I faced my second battle with cancer last year but that didn’t happen either.  When I look back at what I endured last year I have to say it was pretty gruesome.  I looked upon death’s door on more than one occassion yet in the end I still didn’t come out of the experience loving myself or with gratitude for life.

Depression has always played a major role in how I handle any given life situation, since I’ve been dealing with it since I was 17,  and how I feel about who I am.  Cancer and depression are a recipe for disaster.  Believe me, I know that after last year, but at least now I can say it was one hell of a learning experience that prepared me for what I’m dealing with today.

They say, three times a charm…and having cancer for the third time is what it took for me to accept myself on my own terms.  To no longer judge myself or allow others to judge me…it took a threepeat of cancer.  It’s ridiculous, I know.

The moment I realized how much time  I was worrying about what other people thought about my physical appearance I learned some things.  One - what others think about me is none of my business.  Another thing I learned is that by letting go of the negative bullshit, I was set free!

At age 41 and with cancer for the third time, I finally accepted myself completely for who I am, both on the inside and the outside.  And I love who I am…even on the bad days as evidenced by the picture above.  That’s a picture of me with no make up on, feeling sick, and a bandanna covering my head because the hair that was growing in is starting to fall out.

I started to take pictures of myself after I was diagnosed with cancer this third time so that I could see the changes in my face on good days and bad days as a way of facing myself.  Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself by looking at the reflection in the mirror.  Studying a picture, seeing the emotion and always having that moment in time is something entirely different.

You can see the set Facing Myself on Flickr.

Although cancer may seem like this hideous monster of a disease it’s given me a lot of peace of mind, personal self-direction and the ability to face myself.  Those are all things I’d been looking for all of my life, things some people never find, things depression had robbed me of.   So, when family and friends compliment me on my positive attitude I know I’m on the right path.

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Cancer, The Cool Disease

by Lisa on August 7, 2008

in Cancer Sucks

It’s cool to have cancer. ~Anonymous

The other day I came across the blog of someone who suffers from a chronic disease. The particular blogger was quite upset with the rest of the blogging world because she felt that she wasn’t getting the attention she deserved. It seemed that she felt because of the nature of her disease that the rest of the blogging world didn’t care.

What particularly caught my attention in her post was the fact that she called cancer the “cool” disease.

“It’s cool to have cancer…”

It’s her perception that people with cancer are rewarded with gifts, donations and trips…like myself. Well, lucky me because I’ve also been rewarded with an illness will result in my death sooner than later. I’ve hit the lottery of diseases, don’t you think? That’s really cool.

I have a disease called Ovarian Cancer also known as the “Silent Killer”. It often goes undetected, undignosed, misdiagnosed or diagnosed when it’s in it’s late stages because of it’s symtoms. The symptoms of Ovarian Cancer mock the symptoms of other illnesses which is why it’s so difficult to diagnose. It’s why it took two years before an ER doctor found my first 11 inch cyst.

Ovarian Cancer has the following symptoms:

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Vague but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such as gas,nausea, and indigestion
  • Frequency and/or urgency of urination in the absence of an infection
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
  • Pelvic and/or abdominal swelling, bloating and/or feeling of fullness
  • Ongoing unusual fatigue
  • Unexplained changes in bowel habits
  • If symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, consult your physician

Do you see how easy it is to mistake those symptoms for another illness? That’s what happened to me over and over again. It happened the second time I had Ovarian Cancer, even when I had a previous history of the disease. And I’ve already explained how that story ended last year. I almost died…which I don’t think is cool at all.

Since March 31, 2008 I’ve been trying to find the right diagnosis. In that time I’ve had several tumors inside and outside my abdomen growing larger. Those tumors have been causing me pain but I haven’t been complaining. I’ve just accepted that this is part of living with cancer. However, I don’t think the pain of cancer is cool in any way, shape or form.

Tomorrow I start a new protocol of chemotherapy. Let’s talk about chemotherapy because that in itself is totally not cool. Chemo is meant to kill cancer cells but in doing that it also kills healthy cells because it doesn’t know the difference between the two. It can leave you in worse shape that you were in before you started.

Having your veins pumped full of toxic, metallic material…totally not cool.

I’ve been diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer and there is a 50% chance that I will respond to treatment. If I respond to treatment, then there is a 80% chance the disease will return. I have a higher chance of dying from complications resulting from the disease than from the disease itself.

Now, regular readers know that I’ve taken a very positive approach to dealing with my illness but I have to say that it pisses me off to have someone say that it’s cool to have cancer. I haven’t found anything remotely cool about this illness. Nothing, nada, zip.

So, if in fact it’s truly “cool” to have cancer, then I’m as hip as they come but honestly does there have to be a contest? What I wish for that blogger is that she can find peace of mind and a healthier attitude in dealing with her illness.

Attitude is half the battle no matter what you are facing. I’m grateful for my ability to fight against depression and maintain my ability to have my “kick cancer’s ass” attitude.

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Which Ears?

by Lisa on April 19, 2008

in Disney World

Before watching please note a few things…I’m not feeling that great today so I look kind of crappy and my arms look five times their normal size. Good GOD, they look like the arms of a 500 pound woman!


Which Ears? from clusterfook on Vimeo.

To enter the raffle go here

XOXO,

Lisa

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