Thursday, May 29, 2014

#tbt Remission Round #1

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

Oak Island, NC 
May 2011
Remission Round #1

See ya soon.
- 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 


Monday, May 5, 2014


    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" life is REAL life. I've learned there are incredibly dark days, darker than I would wish on my worst enemy 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" 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 Dave Matthews Band, Alexz Johnson, Frank Sinatra, Taylor Swift, The Grateful Dead, The Beatles...& yes, Nirvana. 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 "Bleach" 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 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.


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

- LISA -