Tuesday, July 29, 2014

See ya soon....

What do remission, Alexz Johnson, &  rediscovering old friends have in common?
....
they're all part of my super-rad summer & you can read about them soon!

Stay tuned.

love&lyrics,

- LISA -


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Happy 1 Year in Heaven Talia Joy!



1 year ago - on July 16 2013 - Heaven gained a beautifully brave & wise-beyond-her-years angel. Talia Joy Castellano, known on the web as "taliajoy18", fought cancer for 6 of her 13 years; within those 6 years she would not only bring mainstream awareness to childhood cancer but she would also meet, touch, & impact the lives of millions around the world...including mine. I found Talia during my own battle & although it was from afar, she taught me how to be a warrior - in life & in fight (not to mention that she taught me to always, always fill in my brows!). She reminded us all to #justkeepswimming, especially during those times when it seemed like we have nothing left. She taught use to embrace ourselves, our flaws, our situations, & our dreams. She taught us to smile & to dance; to laugh & to truly live every day that we are blessed to be on this Earth. 
We miss you T. 
Fly high & rest easy.




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A day at the office...(update!)

2-month precautionary CT scan of chest, abdomen, & pelvis.
Fingers-crossed! 

**UPDATE**

BIG SIIIIIIGH!!!
Almost 25 months NED {no evidence of disease}!
Time to make my dreams come true.

Talk to you soon!

love&lyrics,
LISA

Thursday, May 29, 2014

#tbt Remission Round #1

"The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it."
 - C.C. Scott

#tbt
Oak Island, NC 
May 2011
Remission Round #1

See ya soon.
love&lyrics, 
- LISA -

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Beauty Despite Cancer" Entry #2 {link}

My 2nd blog entry for the amazing "Beauty Despite Cancer" is up & at 'em. 
Follow the link for "Ready or Not - Time For War"
I'm SO honored to be a part of #teambdc!

Continue down for my latest "GDHC" entry 
'love&lyrics".

-LISA -

Monday, May 5, 2014

"love&lyrics"

    My life is never one to disappoint when it comes to the dramatics; to say it would make one hell of a Saturday night Lifetime movie would be a gigantic understatement. However, somehow, I choose to look at that fact as a "catch-22". On 1 end of the spectrum I have a life where I can never get too comfortable; anytime I've fallen into the comfy-couch of life, something - as if right on cue - starts digging into my side. For example, my latest tumor-marker spike. I walked into the cancer center that day without a care in the cancer-world & by end of day, everything had changed. Suddenly, 22 glorious months of remission could be washed away with 1 simple scan & I would be starting over from scratch.
     Now, on the other end of the spectrum, I have a life where I can never get too comfortable. Yes I know, it's the same exact reason - just hear me out. Losing my brothers, having to watch my Gram slowly dissipate from Alzheimer's until she passed, my cancer journey, losing Sis & Jim (my Mom & Dad #2) the day after my 2nd surgery, & my mom's cancer diagnosis all by the age of 29 is pretty heavy. It's not the stories you read about growing up or the movies you watch when everyone lives "happily-ever-after"...my life is REAL life. I've learned there are incredibly dark days, darker than I would wish on my worst enemy (I'm talking about you, Tom Cruise!) ;) but each & every situation taught me a very abrupt, in-your-face life lesson. I know that any day truly could be your last & that tomorrow really never is a promise. I know that no matter how much we love someone, inevitably it will come to the time when they will no longer be there...sometimes without warning. I've learned that family, above ALL things is the most important anchor of life. I've learned to never leave without telling someone I love them. I've learned that life is hell of a marathon & no matter how many times you fall, run out of breath, or lose faith in yourself, you always have the option to get up, dust yourself off, & prepare for the next hurdle because, believe me, the next hurdle will be waiting for you. 
     When this particular hurdle came in the form of a substantial tumor-marker spike I was, initially, surprisingly calm. The thing is, I don't fear cancer...nor do I fear dying from this disease. What I do fear about cancer is the ramifications it puts on my husband, my parents, my sister, & my niece & my nephew. I despise the fact that this disease can put an entire family into crisis-mode within seconds & that is precisely what it did. Hearing "this is concerning" from my oncologist paled in comparison to the look in my mom's eyes when I had to sit-down & explain to her what was going on. "Oh my God" she said with a heavy sigh - the type of sigh a child never wants to hear - let alone cause - their mother, who is their hero, to have. She wrapped her arms around me & whispered how much she wished she could take this from me but, in all honestly, I would have cancer everyday for 1000 years to protect my mom from any form of negativity, as I'm sure that's what she meant in that hug. 
     As the week wore-on & the more I allowed my mind to fester on the thought that my tumor-marker was 5x what it was 4 months prior, I progressively began to freak out a little bit more with each passing day. By the time the weekend before my scan came I was in full-fledged stressed-out, emotional-mess, "scanxiety"-overload...at least on the inside. As I did my best to emotionally-prepare for a potential battle with cancer round #3 I did what I think a lot of people do during times of life "eh's" & turned to music. 
     For some reason around late February/early March I started listening to a lot of Nirvana...I can't even remember how or why it all started. Now, if you know-know me, my musical taste is ridiculously widespread. I love DMB, Alexz Johnson, NKOTB (I'm forever a "Blockhead") Taylor Swift, Beech, Switchfoot, The Grateful Dead...& I may even own a little Miley but don't hold it against me! However Nirvana is a new one for me. I was around 8-10 when they were outragelously "famous" (sorry Kurt, I know you despised that word) but I remember pretending to understand the punk-rock angst with my brothers when they would lay around listening to "Nevermind" or "Bleech" in their room. For me it was more about spending time with my big brothers who were, of course, the coolest guys in the world to me at the time. Fast-forward 20 years & here I am...therapeutically listening & absorbing the same music (a'la-world-wide-web) my brothers did all those years ago. At some point during that weekend I brought up the topic of listening to Nirvana to my mom & said something to the effect that I wished we knew what happened to the long-forgotten cd's of my brothers'. After she thought silently for a second she said, "I think they may be in a box somewhere but I couldn't even begin to think where". I went back upstairs & within 5 minutes my mom was flashing our light - which is our "doorbell" to our upstairs sanctuary. "You're never going to believe this" she said with a look of "what the..." on her face. I made my way down the steps & from behind her back she pulled out 2 Nirvana cd's: Nevermind & Unplugged in NY - no cases, no booklets, just 2 cds I thought were long-lost. "I think maybe someone wanted you to have these" she added. As I physically touched them for the first time, tears immediately began flooding down my face. I knew what this meant & whether you believe in things like this or not...at that EXACT second, I knew my scan would be clear. 
     2 days later, exactly 4 years to the day I was diagnosed, & strangely-enough, the day before my brother John's birthday, I got the results I knew were coming. A PET-scan of my entire body showed absolutely NO evidence of active malignancy & my tumor-marker, which was at 2.3 just 2 week prior, had dropped to 1.7. My big brothers; my two, extremely-handsome guardian angels had hugged me from Heaven with that fluke of leading my mom to a random box in her room where the cd's were just waiting to be found. Call me crazy or dramatic - say I'm looking too much into things, do whatever you wish...but I know my brothers & I know what they did for me that day. They gave me relief, peace, & understanding....but most of all, they gave me love & lyrics when I needed them most.


HOW SWEET IT IS! 



My Angels. <3
{notice the *only* ornament on the tree is the 1 angel between them.}


love&lyrics,
- LISA -




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tailspin

     I think the 1 thing I detest most about cancer is how in just 1 tiny little second it can, time & time again, throw your whole entire life into a tailspin. Unfortunately, this is where I find myself once more: in the midst of a cancer tailspin. 
     On Monday afternoon I walked into the Cancer Center for scheduled blood-work & to have a catch-up with my incredible oncologist, Dr. K. The sun was shining, I had lost 3 lbs, & my favorite CNA pulled my chart which meant girl-talk during blood drawls!!! We talked about her handsome little man who, unbelievably, is already 2, I boasted about reaching my 22-month remission mark, & we quickly hugged goodbye before Chad & I were taken back to our exam room.  Dr. K, who is by far the most incredible oncologist I could ever ask for (making the transfer after my recurrence was one of the best decisions I ever made) entered the room with a smile, as she always does, & then made my day by telling me I always have the cutest style when she sees me (shout-out to my F21 bowler hat!). We waited for about an hour hoping that my CEA, or tumor-marker, would come back from the lab. When it didn't, we set-up a game-plan to have my next CT in June (which would be 6 months from my last in December), hugged, & said our goodbyes. I knew someone would be calling with my CEA count so it was no surprise when I saw "Cancer Center" on my celly ID while shopping around Target with Chad. The information that came next literally knocked the breath out of me. My tumor-marker, which measures a specialized protein in Colorectal patients to show signs of possible disease, had been steady at 0.5 since June 2012, however on Monday, it had jumped to 2.3. 
     My heart sank & my hands began to tremble so much that Chad took the phone to hold it still. Because it was such a sudden, substantial jump, Dr. K ordered my CT scan to be turned into a PET of my entire body & also to have it moved from June to sometime within the next few weeks. I'm trying my damnedest to think positive but I'm also preparing myself for a potential round #3. The strange thing is when I had my recurrence in 2011, I knew it was coming. I had spine & tailbone pain for weeks prior to my scan; I just didn't feel quite "right". However, as of now, I don't feel like anything is wrong. I feel...dare I say healthy? 
     Regardless of what the outcome of my upcoming PET scan may show, it is what it is. I've beaten cancer twice & I know I can do it again if need be. If it's nothing, well...I guess that's life reminding, once again, anything & everything can change in a matter of seconds...or in my case, in a matter of a tailspin.
I'll keep you updated. 
love&lyrics,
- LISA -

...just because..