New Way to be Human

Nov. 18 2004, my Mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. I started this blog to chronicle her journey. July 19, 2005 she gave her life in the battle. This blog is my place to process through the journey I walked along with her, and now my journey through grief. It's also a place to discuss the effects cancer has on the lives it touches--survivors and caregivers alike. I'm a Navy wife, a Mom, and my mother's daughter now and forever.

Saturday, April 30, 2005


Dad is here... And somehow that means, I really have to leave, and Mom is really sick... and all of a sudden I am sad and scared and overwhelmed.

Friday, April 29, 2005


Freshly immunized, fussy, clingy baby all day long+tired husband who got home late+last evening of aloneness before separations start = Very disappointed me.

Darn it... I feel like I just let this last chance to be just us before this away time slip through my fingers... I already feel a little beat up from no breaks from fussing baby... this feeling of 'non-connectedness' and the knowledge that dh slept through what I wanted (without even realizing it) to be a nice 'together' evening just sucks.

Dad comes tomorrow, and my cousin will be spending the evening with us as well because of an audtion near here on Sunday... It's going to be a little zooey. I just wanted some quiet last minute time before that started and we both left.

And the Daddy video isn't done. :(

On top of that, DH has to work ALL weekend (while I entertain the houseguests and pack and still take care of baby).

Oh well... No wait. I don't want to be look on the bright-sidey right now. I just want to feel bummed for a moment.

I'll stop before I hit the over-indulgence phase...


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Day we Found Out

There was a suggestion today on the LC support board that we share the stories of when we found out about the lung cancer diagnosis. This is what I posted:

I knew Mom had been in for some tests, and I knew the doctor was concerned things were serious. We were thinking Mom was just having really bad arthritis with some wacky blood counts. But, the doctor had mentioned the word, "Leukemia," to Mom and my heart sunk. I can remember during my thinking times in the shower, I just knew something was really wrong. I kept trying to tell myself I was projecting the negative to protect myself, but I knew it was deeper than that.... I just didn’t anticipate the blow that Lung Cancer is.

The day we found out my husband had been promoted. I was all excited about that and playing the proud wife, and I called to tell Dad about the ceremony. Dad was really quiet and wouldn’t tell me how things were going, and Mom didn’t want to talk. Finally, I told him that he was scaring me. He said that he would have to call back when my husband was home, and then I knew it was bad. I explained to him that I would be more frightened if he made me wait until Andy was home and finally, I dragged it out of him.

And... That’s when "Lung Cancer" became a fixture in my vocabulary. I was so scared. My husband had been at work all day due to an early briefing and wasn’t due home until very early the next morning, and I just couldn’t handle that. So... I called him at work just sobbing. His supervisor sent him home immediately long enough to get me ‘under control.’ He held me for a long time, and I cried for what seemed like forever. When he had to go back to work, I just sat there quietly and tried to figure out what I was going to do to get through the night.
I didn’t know what to do, or how to process what I’d just heard. I got on the Internet to do research and I found those stupid statistics and my heart just sank. It stayed sunk for about a week until I finally found LCSC, and started reading about people who had beaten the odds, and people who had hope. And then... Hope became the thing I could cling to.

Because of the small hospital Mom was using we didn’t get the staging information for almost a month. For a month, we prayed that we’d caught things fairly early. Even the doctor was somewhat optimistic... And then we found out that there were Mets in the bones... And it was like another sock in the stomach.

It was so hard being pregnant and finding out. Of course I kept wondering if Mom would know her grand-daughter and how much time they’d have together. I felt so awful because every time I thought about the baby, my thoughts immediately went to Mom, and I felt overwhelming sadness and fear. I wanted to feel happiness and joy about my baby... But it was all masked at that point.

I can so relate to those of you who said you wanted to punch happy people. I sure did. The people I wanted to punch even more were the ones who would see me and my pregnantness and say, "I bet you’re so excited," or, "You must be so happy." I just wanted to slap them and scream... "My Mom has Cancer you idiot.... There is no such thing as happy."

Now though... I’ve found happy again at least some days, and I think what’s more I’ve found joy. My daughter gives me hope and courage and strength. I know time is precious–with everyone in my life–and I don’t want to waste it. Don’t get me wrong, I still get sad, and angry, and scared many days... But this little girl keeps me going. She smiles at me and giggles and I just know her smiles and giggles will be such good medicine for Mom. I still want to hit happy people sometimes, but not nearly as large a percentage of the time. And hope is still such a beautiful word.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Just Stuff

First of all... My friend, "Red" lost her Mama to the beast yesterday. I hurt so badly for her, and just hate this stuff so much. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

This week is overwhelming. I'm preparing to get Chester, Carolyn, and I back to the midwest to be with Mom. I'm anxious and wanting it to hurry... Sad, and wanting it to take a long time. What I need to do is just be in now. We'll leave next Tuesday. Dad will be here on Friday to bring Chester and the car back.

I'm also excited that Mom and Dad will finally get to meet Carolyn. Why is it... that when I'm with one set of special people in my life, I have to be away from another. I am so happy they'll get to be with Carolyn, and so grateful that we'll both get to be with Mom... but I do not look forward to the ache of being away from Andy.

It's funny... It seems like I have lots of things in my life right now that are difficult for others to understand without having 'been there.' As I've said before, a lot of people do try, and some do a really nice job.... I certainly appreciate all the people who at least try... But it's so hard to answer questions first about the military and the oddness that it throws over our life, and now about Mom and her condition, that people just don't quite get. The two thrown together can just be so difficult. YES I'm excited to be with my folks, but that can't entirely cancel out my sadness over leaving my husband. People seem to forget that. And explaining the Det. vs. deployment issues is just tough too. It all boils down to... we spend a lot of time apart and it sucks.

So anyway... I guess I better get back to getting some of the stuff around here that needs done done.

Need to not be so gripey. Forgive my dumpingness, please.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazingday:
for the leaping greenly spirits of treesand a blue true dream of sky;
and for everythingwich is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;
this is the birthday of life and love and wings:
and of the gaygreat happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeingbreathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

--e. e. cummings

I really like e. e. cummings, and this is my very favorite poem of his. It reminds me to drink in life.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Now there's something to keep me hopeful and joyful... Posted by Hello

"Better" Days

All I have to say is when "Better Days" for Mom means that she can hold her yogurt cup without spilling it and walk out to the kitchen while clinging to Daddy, life really just seems a little twisted.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Well... just when we think things are looking up. ..

I don't know if it's from Monday's treatment or what, but I guess today was awful for Mama. (I'm still in WA, so I don't know first hand). She's been really shaky for a long time now, and today she couldn't hold her own glass. She was also having a lot of strange pain. (She's hoping, and I am too that it's the Alimta doing it's job). She was tired and couldn't eat. It sounded like it was a very BAD day.

I'm so glad I'm going to be back with her soon... I need to get there.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Good Day

Mom had a good day today. She saw lots of people while her and Daddy were out, including a friend of ours who is in remission from Lung Cancer (Yeah for Terry and Glory to God!). Her treatment and doctors appointment didn't take too long, and her and Daddy went out to eat afterwards. They also, apparently went out and bought a baby swing for Baby C. to use at their house... *sigh* Bless their hearts.

Then she came home and had enough oomph for a walk around the yard to see the lilacs, and then even more for a talk on the phone to my aunt and a LONG phone call to Me. That's right, she called me and talked for quite a while. Gosh that felt so great. She was so excited to tell someone about her GOOD day. It's been so long since she's had one. And then she wanted to chat for a while about Carolyn.

I'm just so happy that she finally had a good day. Now if we can only find some more. Gotta take them one at a time though.

Thank you Jesus for this day!


Mom starts Alimta today... Hoping so much that this is just the right thing for her.

She's having A LOT of shoulder pain again.... That makes me scared.

Friday, April 15, 2005


So my big question lately is... How do I healthily feel and have my emotions?

It has been hitting me over and over lately that rather than feeling the emotions that happen with Mom having cancer, having a baby, losing Gram, and getting ready to be away from my husband for quite a while... well rather than feeling them, I've been not feeling them. My basic stragegy is usually, "Walk through the day." So I do. But I put emphasis on walking and not being.

I can't figure out what it looks like to healthily emote. Taking the luxury of maybe crying or feeling over some things or not being businesslike, or even upbeat, seems like wallowing. But I logically know that it isn't wallowing.

I know that one of the paradoxes of life is that in order to feel joy you must also feel pain. I know that by settling for 'false perky' and 'down to business' I rob myself of both (Surely even pain can be a priveledge). But I can't figure out how to really feel anything.

I can prepare. That's doable. I can get tasks X, Y, and Z done and talk about and retalk about the strategy for executing this, this, and this in 'dealing.'

I can clean (though I hate it), and do menial necessary tasks just so I know for sure that I am still 'walking through things.'

I can even Veg. Sometimes I veg to the exclusion of menial necessary tasks to numb out from things.

But I can't figure out what having healthy feelings... Going through the emotions.... Looks like. How do I let myself feel sad without getting stuck in self-pity? How do I get angry without getting stuck in a place that leads to bitterness that will be corrosive to my spirit? How do I deal with the outrageous jealousy, annoyance, and snippiness that comes from dealing with others in this process without getting stuck there and even being 'bitchy?'

I wish there were a class for this.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Bad Hair/Bad Perspective.

I must be completely out of whack perspective wise. I got my hair cut today. I don't like it. In fact... I think I hate it. It either looks bad or looks like I didn't have anything done (both because it looked bad before I had it cut... *sigh*).

Well so... I have enough going on right now that you'd think I'd be in perspective about this. You'd think I wouldn't cry over it because I can rationally say, "This could SO be worse..." But no. I've been down about it all day, and when Andy got home to see it I just burst into tears.

Stupid me... Pinning hopes on a darn haircut for so long. I had been looking forward to it for a few months and had built it way up and then it turned out lousy.

Why can't I take this with a grain of salt. It'll grow out.

But I really wanted to feel pretty for a little bit.

Yes... I know pretty isn't all that important in the long run.

And I cried over it. There are so many other things worth crying over or celebrating over right now and I'm blown off course by hair I don't like. Grrr.

Monday, April 11, 2005

New Vocabulary

Alimta, Cisplatin, Gemzar, Zometa, Iressa, Tarceva, Pleural Effeusion, NED, Stable, CT Scan, PET Scan, WBR, Mets....

Generally I really enjoy learning new words and extending my vocabulary. Well, Lung cancer has a verbage all it's own. Sure wish I didn't have to learn it.

But I'm catching on quick!


Not feeling so scared today. I think it's because we again have a 'plan.' The doctor says Alimta should be Mom's next drug of choice. I was glad to hear that because it's one that I've heard of. I was even gladder when I did a search about it on the LC Message Board I'm a part of and saw that several people were having lots of success with it. It also appears as though there are fewer side effects with for most folks. Here's hoping Mom joins their ranks.

I feel so torn aboug going out there. On the one hand I'm ready to be there and feel like I'm doing something to help. I don't want to feel anxious about not being there anymore. And I can't wait to see how Mom and Dad will receive their grand daughter.

But at the same time, the 'countdown' to heading back is also the countdown to being away from Andy. I don't want that. The first shot will only be a month, but I think that the coming together after that in June (when we'll get to pack up our apartment and put it in storage... woohoo) will be our last for quite a while. I just ache at the thought of all that will happen in little Carolyn's life without Daddy to see.

So I want time to go fast and slow all at once.

Once I'm back to 'first home' I'm anxious about things too. Mom wants me to live WITH them. I'd so much rather get an apartment there. I want to not have to feel guilty every time the baby wakes up at 3 a.m, or I want to have visitors. I will need my space. I'm an adult who is very used to being out of the nest. The first month, I'll stick to the plan of staying with the folks but if I feel things need to be rethought after that point, boy am I going to have to be firm.

Anyway... I'm rambling now.

It's Alimta for Mom. She starts next week, and I'm hoping that this is THE THING for her.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


We will find out what track the doctor wants to take with Mom's treatment tomorrow. I'm anxious to find out where we're headed next.

I think the thing that is hardest right now is that Mom just sounds so depressed. She's frusterated that she just can't seem to have good days. I'm so sick... I actually get jealous of other cancer patients who ARE able to have good days... *sigh* This disease messes with you in funny ways.

I wish she didn't sound so hopeless. Today she was talking about the things they are getting to prepare for Carolyn to be there. When I was protesting that they were doing too much she said, "You're Dad is hoping to do this a few times over." And I said, "I hope you are hoping to as well." She started crying and said that she does... but it just sounds like she assumes that she won't.

And maybe that's reality. Maybe I am just whistling in the dark... But I can't let go of hope that we can beat this stuff yet. I just can't.

Well... if you read this, pray for my Mama.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Peter Jennings

Today news broke that Peter Jennings has lung cancer. My first thought was, "How awful." My second less refined selfish thought was--Maybe this will bring some awareness to the issue.

And so far it has, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in how some of the press is being played out. As usual, it's all about smoking.

I don't think there's any other disease on the planet that people get and are made to feel so guilty about. When people get the kinds of cancers that are linked to obesity no one automatically goes, "Guess you should have laid off the twinkies." But when a person mentions they have lung cancer, "Did you smoke?" is the first thing out of people's mouths.

We can't talk about lung cancer to let people know that it is the #1 cancer killer out there or that over 50% of the time it isn't caught until the late stages. We can't talk about the fact that research for lung cancer is severely underfunded. No... all we can talk about is how it's the fault of people who have it. How fair is that?? Not only are they punched in the stomach by the awfulness of having lung cancer, but they're also made to feel guilty for having it. That's messed up.

It just makes me angry. So very angry. I know it comes from the natural inclination for wanting a reason for suffering, but can't people stop and think about the words flying out of their mouths?

Monday, April 04, 2005


This is from an earlier day... It got lost in blogland somehow, so I'm reposting it. :)

Life is full of miracles right now. The very best of them all is laying accross my lap as I type this. Her name is Carolyn Helen and she got here (on her own with no induction, no less!) on March 7. Giving birth to her was the most amazing thing I've ever done. That experience was full of the miraculous besides just... a baby entering the world.

After hearing from person after person that it was very unlikely that I would go into labor on my own any time soon and resigning myself to an induction on Wednesday, my water broke on Sunday night (the 6th). What was funny is I'd been into L&D the day before and had talked to a nurse who said I positively MUST get a birth ball. I wasn't going to, but Sunday decided what the heck? Husband and I went to Wal-mart and as we walked in, I said, "This is going to make the baby come I bet... We'll probably only use this thing tonight." Sure enough, a few hours later with the hugest GUSH you've ever seen my water had broken and we were headed to the hospital.

But... Baby C was still posterior. VERY posterior. Like... during the exams I thought they were reaching for my tonsils (Sorry to be graphic!). She stayed that way... and I stayed 2 cm dilated for about 10 hours... At 8 o'clock, the doctor was looking dismal. He was worried about the fact that my water was broken causing me to be more prone to infections... and we were making NO PROGRESS. All I could think was--He thinks this is going to end in a C section. So, they started pitocin... and I kept moving around. I had some Fentinol which only worked for about an hour and was meant to relax me more than anything (a very good thing as I was exhausted and needed to rest). A few hours later we were celebrating because I had dilated to 5 cm. And... I swear it wasn't 5 minutes later (though everyone else says it was 15 minutes or so), I was saying, "HELP! I really want to push!!!!" That made people move really fast, and guess what--I was Fully Dilated!

It wasn't long til Baby C was here... I don't think I'll ever forget watching as she wriggled out into the doctor's hands.... It took forever before I got to hold her as they repaired me and did the baby care thing. But now, this Angel and I are well-acquainted, learning about one another, and figuring out what our schedule looks like now.

Later that day, husband got a phone call from the squadron. The very chief that we've been holding such an atrocious grudge towards had pulled some strings... And set it up so that husband could go TAD to a 45 day school and STAY BACK from the detachment that leaves this weekend. The trade off was, husband got no leave and had to start the day I got home from the hospital. We've survived that though... and we're absolutely THRILLED that he gets to stay home a bit longer. Needless to say, we learned not to jump to conclusions and hold grudges against people in the chain of command, and God certainly reminded us to see him as a brother and not as an enemy.

Anyway... I don't think I am exaggerating when I use the M word. You might. That's ok. All we know is... we're hugely blessed and thankful. SO THANKFUL.I had really reached the end of my rope waiting for Baby C to get here. I was so worried and afraid she wouldn't have time with her daddy and that I wouldn't have help in my recovery period. I was starting to feel very Grry at God. I was starting to demand an answer for why everything seemed like it had to be uphill for us... And then all of this happened. I tell you the air has been charged with the miraculous...

I don't get God, but I know that He is good. And I know I am thankful for the work he's been doing (I'm convinced he's been working overtime on our behalf). I'm especially thankful for this amazing person sleeping so sweetly right here with me. Welcome to the world Baby C!


Maybe it's just that I've been so focused on the little one that I've forgotten to be anxious, and now I've remembered.... I'm not sure, but I find myself very worried about Mom again.

She hasn't had very many good days. In fact, she's had a lot of downright crappy ones. They don't seem to be directly correlated to the chemo either. Her blood counts are all screwy--especially her platelets. Her platelet count was low enough last week that they couldn't do chemo, but high enough that they couldn't give her a transfusion..... So she had to just sit and wait (and feel lousy).

I'm scared though... I'm scared that time will run out faster than any of us anticipated. I'm scared that Carolyn and I will be late getting to her, or that once we get there things will go really fast. I'm scared that when I do get there I won't have the energy to do the mommy thing and pitch in and help with Mom.

Mom is getting another CT Scan today. I'm anxious about that too. I'm especially anxious given that she hs been feeling so poorly. She's also had pain in her shoulder again.... What does this mean? What will the scans show us this time around?

I don't like the thought of losing my Mom to this monster. In fact, I hate it. I try so hard to be hopeful... but the whatifness of that possibility makes it hard to swallow around the lump of fear in my throat when I look towards the future. I want Mom around to see Carolyn grow up. How much will she see of my baby's life?

I'm just scared. Really scared.

On a lighter note... I love my daughter so very much. My internet friend, "Red" mentioned the other day that with her son she experienced these overwhelming feelings of love that would just catch her off guard. The last two days have been full of that. The only way I can describe it is that it's like this sock in the stomach... I can't breathe all of a sudden because I'm so overwhelmed by love of this little person. It's so unreal to me that she is experiencing this world for the first time. We went to the beach the other day (first time at the beach!) and a dog ran by, and I said, "Carolyn. That's a dog." Then I stopped... Who remembers the first time they saw a dog and learned--That furry thing that walks around on four legs instead of two and likes to lick stuff is a DOG. Granted she's not developmentally to a place where she is identifying things in such a way... but the fact that EVERYTHING is brand new to her is astounding. And by the way, I'm in love.