Sunday, November 18, 2018

Three weeks ago a light went out
you moved it from it's place
The light was getting weaker there
We could see it in your face
It shined so bright and for so long
It showed us all the way
The fact that it was on all the time
Helped us through our day
Your glow was always that of morning shine
and afternoons of fun
We never wanted to think about the setting of the sun
Your light has moved and not visible
in any normal speaking sense
But for those you love, the heat and
focus are becoming more intense.
So, when I need your help, and I'm overwhelmed
with days that I can't handle
I'll relocate your light again in the flicker of a candle

-Your Knight, Your Love 



Yes, it's been three weeks, life goes on...
Mine is stuck....I've got to get back on track...

Thank you to all that have encouraged me to continue Tamara's blog and I promise this is the last bummer post. Promise.

Tamara was the most positive person anyone would ever have the pleasure to meet, she was the yin to my yang. I want to be her yin from now on.

I said I'd tell you all what happened...

When stage four reared it's ugly head we immediately made the battle plan to do whatever was necessary to stave off the inevitable.... it's inevitable 

On December 24th 2015, yes Christmas Eve, Tamara underwent hysterectomy surgery so that the new chemo drug "Ibrance"  would be effective. She did this because she never went through menopause and this drug is meant for post-menopausal women.

Funny story here, yes we're talking about Tamara there's always a funny story.

Before surgery the anesthesiologist came in to introduce himself and prepare Tam for what will happen next (poor guy probably didn't realize that Tam has been through a dozen surgeries before this)  

He instructed Tam to remove all jewelry...yes Tamara went to an early morning, scheduled surgery, wearing her watch, bracelet, necklace, earrings and rings on her fingers. Not to mention she got up extra early so she could get on her makeup (false eyelashes included)

She removed all of it except her wedding ring... He's all "please remove all of it because we don't want any swelling and complications while you're under"...Makes sense too me, I'm all safety and pragmatist I said Tam it's okay we've done this over and over take it off.

Tamara, the forever romantic...asked him why he would be the first anesthesiologist ever to insist that she remove her wedding ring. He again explained the dangers and I convinced her to begrudgingly remove the ring that has never left her hand in 27 years.

Well like a tree that has a rope on it as a sapling grows, so do you fingers...In comes nurses with vaseline then baby oil then a string to somehow wrap around the ring and finger to magically remove the ring. Finally they brought in a doctor with an industrial pair of wire cutters and snapped in off and handed it to me.

Off she went to surgery and all went well.

Of course I had it repaired. I returned it to her finger and didn't remove it until three weeks ago today.


Okay that was the last bummer....promise






Saturday, November 17, 2018

This is Matt

I think it would be something Tamara would want me to do and tell you all that her journey with cancer has come to the inevitable conclusion. Tamara passed at our little lake house on October 28th.
Yes October, breast cancer AWARENESS month. She found the whole awareness a ridiculous concept, especially for those battling this insidious disease.

I don't know...I want to do all things Tamara....I'm nowhere close to the talented writer that my wife is, but I want to continue this blog in her honor....I'm not sure if anyone is going to read it but I feel like doing this will be sort of cathartic and maybe she will inspire me to write things as inspirational as she did.

How did it happen? What happened since she wrote last?

We started doing title search work together in 2016. a: to do something together (we did everything together) b: INSURANCE the most important thing to us was this amazing company that we worked for and the wonderful benefit of stellar insurance coverage they provided. Tamara's cancer was back with a vengeance, but you all know from her writings, that Tamara always walked on the sunny-side of the street, and there was no way that this was going to get her, publicly. Privately....I think the reason that she stopped blogging was that she crossed the street...she never let on but I noticed that her blogging stopped and I think she didn't want to scare you all (Tam sic y'all). Tamara stayed unbelievably strong for her many friends and loving family and she moved on with the many treatments that she was offered. Whole brain radiation, targeted radiation all of the chemotherapy that the body can tolerate. I'll write more of how Tamara reacted to each and every one for those that care to read and learn, I think that was her intention from the beginning, and that was to inform other really scared women what they will encounter. I also don't want to be the guy to scare off the many readers that Tamara has. This ended for Tamara, not how we would have intended, and not necessarily the same way that it will for others, new treatments are becoming available all the time.

Tamara was diagnosed in October 2009 and has had many joys and milestones achieved since that horrible day. And I'll get into them as well because she did all of them while living with cancer.  

Friday, March 25, 2016

Stage 4 - A New Life Begins


If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I wrote each and every little thing that happened to me from diagnosis to when I thought I was cured. It was a way for me to release inner fears, but it was also meant to help others. I was always candid, and as you may know, always silly. This go ‘round is different for a reason. But first, let me catch you up.

In October, I went for my yearly scan - the magical 5th year. Supposedly, if you get to year 5, you’re in the clear. I took my daughter with me and we went to lunch and shopping afterwards; kind of a celebratory day. Until dinnertime.

The phone rang and it was my oncologist, Dr. Nakajima. He informed me that they had found something in the scan. There’s a spot on my spine, a little bit on my liver, and an enlarged lymph node. He said he was pretty sure my cancer had come back. As I spoke to him, all 3 of my children and my husband, Matt, came into the room. The look of horror on their faces as they heard my side of the conversation and figured out that cancer had come back was heart breaking. Dr. Nakajima said his nurse would call in the morning to line up all the necessary scans.

I hung up the phone and looked into the stunned eyes of my family. And then we cried. After several minutes, I kicked into mommy mode. I told them the truth, that it was very, very early in the cancer, as far as Nakajima could tell. And he’d said that it was very treatable, and I said that over and over and over again.

I couldn’t stand myself. I was the one who let cancer invade their lives again. I know I didn’t ask for it, didn’t want it, and was definitely frightened of it, but if not for me, our lives would be our family’s version of normal. It’s a bitter realization, and yes, I know it’s not my fault, but I’m still responsible. When you’re a mom, bringing any kind of sorrow into your children’s lives is tantamount to opening the door and inviting Satan in.

The funny thing is, Matt and I had just returned from a long, celebratory weekend to Ocean City. We hadn’t been there for a while (cancer kinda gets in the way), and there’s an old historic hotel, The Flanders, that I had wanted to go to for the past 25 years. We went there to put a period on the last 5 years and to begin another chapter in our lives - one that didn’t have cancer as part of it. I even made a slide video; you can see it here. It was wonderful, and I’m glad we went, but the irony isn’t lost on either of us.

I had a few scans, including a PET scan. I’m going to go off topic for second, though, because I think it’s important for you to know what to expect when you’re told you need a PET scan. I was told that it would take a few hours, so the night before, I charged up my Kindle and off I went in the morning. And here’s what they DIDN’T tell me. I couldn’t read my book, a magazine, a phone book, nothing. I was injected with some kind of dye, and told I had to lay still for 90 minutes (yup, an hour and a half). No reading, since even that small eye movement would light up like a Christmas tree. Folks, I’m a fidget and being still for 5 minutes is difficult. Being in a dark room, lying on an uncomfortable gurney, listening to their “soothing” music (if new age is your thing, then, yes, I guess it was soothing. It just irritated me and made the time slow to a crawl), I lay there. New age music has its place - just not in MY musical repertoire.

In what seemed like years, rather than an hour and a half, the nurse came in and I was brought into a room with a machine that rather looked like an MRI machine. The rest of the test took maybe 15 minutes, and I was finally done. Why am I telling you this? Because if being still for an hour and a half, while enduring crappy music is your thing, then a PET scan is going to be a piece of cake. My advice? Bring some music you actually like with you. It’ll make the time pass quicker - I think. I hope.

But as usual, I have digressed. Back to the story.

It was finally confirmed - I was now living the Stage 4 lifestyle. New medicines, more drugs, more pain, and a life that was now going to be full of scans and blood tests. For the rest of the time I have left on this earth.

But, on the bright side, there was a new medicine called “Ibrance” that just came on the market. It’s being touted as a new wonder drug, and can extend the length of my life. At Fox Chase, where Matt and I went for a second opinion, Dr. Carlson confirmed Dr. Nakajima’s opinion that due to new therapies, coupled with how early the cancer was caught and that it’s a slow growing cancer, my outlook is pretty good. And that’s what brings me to why I haven’t been too vocal about it for all these months.

I have several friends that I’ve met on my journey, ones that are really, really sick. I’m going to lose a few within the next year; one I said goodbye to last year. I don’t feel right announcing this on my FB page or any other social media right now. These women won’t have the necessary criteria to use the new medicine. I wish I never had to make this announcement, pray that I won’t lose any more friends, and hope that no other woman or man has to deal with breast cancer or any other form of cancer. But sadly, none of those dreams will be realized anytime soon.

Cancer is insidious and is an equal opportunity destroyer. It changes you, it frightens you, and you experience thoughts and feelings that you probably would never ponder until it breaks down the door of your life and and invades like a Storm Trooper. There is no Obi Wan Kanobi, no magic pill, no cure. It is now going to be part of the rest of my life and the lives of my beloved Matt and our children.

On the bright side, with the support of family and friends, there will be many happy days to come. Life continues with all its milestones, including the fact that on May 14th, our daughter, Elyse, will marry HER Knight in Shining Armour, Rob. We have a bridal shower to plan, a service to attend, a reception to hold and a new son to welcome. Life continues and it’s still wonderful, full of love, happiness, and many more joyful memories.

I’ve decided to look at this new part of my life with hope and the same humour coupled with the goofy escapades that have always been a part of who I am. I will fight and I’m sure I’ll stumble. But that’s OK, because that’s part of life.

I’ve chosen to embrace hope. The human spirit, our belief in God, and our love of family and friends are things that cancer can’t take away from us.  

And that is what will make us triumph over cancer.

 
(If you’d like to get in touch with me, feel free to “like” either one or both of my Facebook pages, “The Brunette Lucy” or “The Brunette Lucy vs. Breast Cancer”)







Friday, January 15, 2016

Cancer, Stage 4 - exit left!

It's funny how the human mind works. After I'd been cancer free for a few years, I stopped keeping up on this blog. I guess it was because I figured that if I didn't talk about it anymore, cancer would die from neglect. But that's the thing about cancer, it really doesn't care whether or not you ignore it. IT makes up the time schedule, whether you feed it or not. Sometimes, it decides that the battle should begin anew. It's reared its ugly head, and has challenged me to another duel. I am now Stage 4 - my cancer has metastasized.

Due to other health issues, my niece, Melody, has dubbed me the "Queen of Beating the Odds". Well, it's time to pick up the crown, give it a good scrub, and put it back on my head. Along with a hefty suit of armour.

It's time to go to war.

I'll write more this weekend, but let me say this. There is an arsenal of new medicines that have just recently (within 3-6 months) been approved in this fight. And I intend to use each & every one of them.
 







Thursday, April 10, 2014

New nipple - hopefully

Well, folks, Dr. Morrissey tattoed my new nipple a few weeks ago. It started out really dark, and didn't match ol' lefty even a little bit. He said it'll lighten up, which is has, but it's not quite a match. We're going to wait a few months & see what happens. And hasn't that been the story of my battle with cancer to date?

Anyways, I've finally decided to write my book about my battle with cancer. Just as I've been here with you, I'm going to be very candid about what I've been through. I just recently realized that I was Stage 3c, which is one step away from metasticizing. Translation - whole different outcome. I would have been annoying the daylights out of St. Peter to let me thru the Gates of Heaven. I'm Lucy, though, I can annoy even a Saint. So I'm a very, very lucky girl. And St. Peter can breathe a sigh of relief that he doesn't have to deal with me yet. Then again, I might be going the other way.

Keep your fingers crossed that I can finish this book! I get distracted easily and . . . . . oh, look, a butterfly!
 

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's late & I'm heading into bed soon. I'm up, though, cause I have an appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Nakajima. I have to have a real talk with him - and I haven't told you about it because I don't want you to worry that you may experience the same thing. I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority.

Anyways, I've been experiencing shooting pains from my elbows to my hands. When it reaches my hands, they tingle, itch and/or feel like they're being poked with a hundred needles. Needless to say, it isn't pleasant. Couple that with my joint pain, the pain that radiates from my back to my front legs all the way to the soles of my feet, & I'm hurting a lot more than I thought I would at this time.

Let me be REALLY CLEAR, though! I contracted MRSA during the mastectomy & spent months trying to knock it out. I had 3 additional surgeries & an extended hospital stay so they could administer IV antibiotics. They also left the wound open, packed it, & cleaned it. It wasn't pleasant. Then I had the max amount of chemo they could give you followed by 6 weeks of radiation - a lot of people don't have to go thru that many. What I'm experiencing is unusual. Please don't think that because I'm sharing this with you that it's in any way normal. If you have any questions, or want to pick my brain, please leave a message either at the bottom of this blog or directly to me at tamkells@gmail.com. Please put "cancer" or something like that in the memo line, though, so I know it's okay to open the email.

Anyways, I've been having pain & Dr. Nakajima gave me pain meds a few months ago. I don't want to have to continue to take them, which is evidenced by the fact that I don't get in touch with Dr. Nakajima before any appointment to ask for more. I take them sparingly, but the fact of the matter is that I need to ask him for more.

The weird thing is that I'm nervous about doing that! Matt keeps telling me that I just went thru Hell, & am dealing with painful side effects & that's his job to help me. Still, I don't want him to think I'm trolling for drugs. Matt made me promise I'd ask though.

I'll let you know this week what happened. Also, if you have ANY suggestions about dealing with this neuropathy & the tingling/numbing/needles sticking in my hands, I'd sure appreciate your input.

K, gotta get to bed. It's after 2:00 am! Thank you so much for your continued prayers.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

PINKTOBER (or, shoot me now)



During Pinktober, I and my fellow cancer bloggers, rail about the world turning pink and all the money to be made by slapping a pink ribbon on just about everything. However, for the record, I want to thank everyone who purchased the products, signed up for the walks, and wore (or wear) pink ribbons. I know that you wanted to help, and thought you were doing so. I can’t tell you how deeply I appreciate what you’ve done. BBC (before breast cancer), I did the same thing because, like you, I never knew the truth. Still, if you want to wear the pink ribbon – you go right on ahead! I’m not offended! I think you’re awesome; I just want us all to take the next step & demand honesty from those that claim to be helping us find “the cure”. Again, thank you for wanting to help the cause and women like me. God Bless You.



I can’t help it, but every time Pinktober rolls around, I think about Ralphie in the movie, “Christmas Story”. Aunt Clara made a big pink bunny suit for him, which his mother forced him to try on. As he comes down the steps, his mother thinks that it’s adorable while his father shares in his son’s horror. He says that Ralphie looks like a big pink nightmare. All I can think about is the other months, staring as October is forced to wear pink; you just know they’re all laughing and pointing. Which is sad, because October should be equated with falling leaves, apple cider, pumpkins, and Halloween. 

Sadly, like Ralphie, it’s now just a big pink nightmare.

I have my own rants coming your way about this time of the year when all the world turns pink and companies slap a pink ribbon on just about everything. Hey, there’s money to be made! But before I rail, I want to share a post from my blogging sister, Ann Silberman. Ann is a metastatic cancer patient, and is fighting each and every day. The way I see it, if anyone can beat Stage 4, it’s Ann (and my friend, Stacy).

You can keep up with Ann on her blog, “Breast Cancer? But Doctor – I hate Pink”. Here’s her story about being contacted to help a guy “save man’s real best friend – boobs”. Ugh. Wouldn’t it be nice if the emphasis was on saving the woman, not the boobs? Anyways, here’s what Ann had to say to the idiot:


Look at this jerk. He actually wrote me a private message and asked me to support him in his effort to save "man's real best friend...boobs." and asked me if I wanted to "rock a tee shirt" like a dying woman has the energy to "rock" anything, and support Komen and some damn race. He didn't bother to call me by name, (more evidence that those of us with mets are not people) he didn't learn my stance on Komen, didn't even gather a little clue by the name "I hate pink." He just blithely asks me to help him get MONEY so he can enjoy himself. He's spamming me, obviously, but hey, it's for the "cause" How could I possibly object?

My response? In part: "I, along with many metastatic women, do not support Komen and won't have anything to do with them. Komen does not help the ONLY women who will die of breast cancer - those of us with metastatic disease. Out of hundreds of millions of dollars raised, Komen donates only 17% towards research that could possibly result in a cure. The rest of their money goes to throw parties and races for the "Survivors" which also include women who never had cancer. Their profound focus on early detection has caused tens of thousands of women to lose their breasts over a disease that is called DCIS which could never, ever have killed them. Research would help them too.

I am dying of cancer. It is not cute, it is not pink. It is not about bras, and it's not about "rocking" anything.

You want to show support for women with cancer? Than learn something, don't just do something you enjoy already (exercise) and pretend you are helping. Read my blog. Read sites like "Think Before You Pink." Watch the movie Pink Ribbons, Incorporated. Read the New York Times article (where I am quoted) here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/magazine/our-feel-good-war-on-breast-cancer.html?ref=magazine&_r=0

Ugh, I hate this month, where every idiot in the world wants to make a buck off the suffering of the 40k women who will die this year of breast cancer and everybody thinks because I have written about my terminal disease of breast cancer I MUST support Komen. That is how brainwashed they have people.

Do not help this guy and in fact, let's get the word out that if he wants to run in a damn race then he should effing pay for it himself. His prizes for donations include such sensitive and charming items as "sweater puppy solo cups"

UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH

I suggest you ask any other metastatic women to support you as you will likely get a very similar response.




Thanks, Ann, for always telling it like it is. If you’d like a REAL eye opener at how low Komen will go to get money for feel good walks & parties, check out Ann’s latest post on her Facebook page. You can read it here.

Un freaking believable.


 
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