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Meet MommyT...

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Hoping everyone had a good Canada Day weekend!  WIth those celebrations behind us, it is time to meet another member of our community. MommyT generously shares her experience with lung cancer and what she has learned along the way

Lianne asked me to write about my cancer. It has been a ride!

I went to bed one evening in November 2019 and my chest felt very heavy … I thought I was having a heart issue. My husband took me to emergency and they did an x-ray and CT scan of my chest and abdomen. They found a ground glass in my lung that was approximately 16 mm. They sent me away for 6 months and told me to come back then for a followup.
When I went for the second CT scan 6 months later (in May, 2020 – just after the pandemic shutdown), the ground glass had grown by 2 mm. My family doctor called and said that he thought it might be lung cancer and referred me to a thoracic surgeon. As you can well imagine, I was a basket case.
A picture from our front step around this time … this seemed to be a sign - I sort of knew things were going to be okay!


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The thoracic surgeon called about a week later and said there was an 85% chance that I had lung cancer, but I’d need to go through the biopsy and screening. Whoa! There is no history of cancer in my family except for my Grandma. I smoked for about 20 years, but quit for about 35 years. My family doctor finally prescribed some Adavan as I couldn’t handle my day to day life. I was crying all the time. At this point, I told my children (both adults) that there was a pretty good chance that I had lung cancer. Lots of tears over that one!
I had the blood tests, ECG and biopsy and received the results – yes, “YOU HAVE LUNG CANCER”.  I thought this was a mistake and that they had my chart mixed up with someone else. I felt so good, except for the heavy chest and that was only the one night. At that point, I was not hooked up with the Canadian Cancer Society or the Cancer Connection. I called the Canadian Cancer Society and they gave me a phone number and the Cancerconnection.ca website. I was so lost. The only experience I have had with cancer was my Grandma had colon cancer in her 60’s, had surgery and lived to be 93. And my beloved dog had a very aggressive cancer that travelled from his pelvis to his lungs in about three weeks, and there was nothing we could do to save him. And that was less than a year previous.


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I made a wall hanging after my fur baby was gone – it was very healing.


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I met a fellow in our community who stayed at the Cancer Lodge a few years ago when he was having his treatments and suggested that I do so. I arranged for the stay … that was the VERY BEST thing I did. We live about an hour from the Cancer Clinic.
I went through the Chemo (6) and Radiation (30)  and with the treatments and travel time, some days would have been close to 8 plus hours (way too long)! I counted down the treatments; so after the first 3 chemo treatments (the first three days) I was half way done. The time actually went by very quickly.
My daughter had given me a F*** Cancer colour book, and this is how I passed the time when I was at the Lodge.


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After the ChemoRadiation, I had four Immunotherapy treatments. The treatments caused too much inflammation in my lungs, so the oncologists decided it was best to suspend them.
My daughters suggested a meditation. I found one online. It was a total of 8 minutes – 2 minutes jumping/jiggling around, 2 minutes of dancing, 2 minutes of sitting and meditating and 2 minutes of lying down. I tried it and every time I think about it I giggled. So, I guess that worked as well as meditation … it calmed me down. But the kids said that this isn’t really meditation.
I was scheduled for scans every three months. One of the scans showed some enlarged lymph nodes. I needed to go in for two PET scans and another biopsy. The waiting, both for the PET scan and the biopsy, was like sitting on pins and needles. All came back showing just inflammation and no cancer.
My recent scans show everything in my lungs are stable!

I am currently in REMISSION! Yayyy! (Until I’m not) But I’ll take it! I now go in for chest, abdomen, pelvis scans every six months and brain scans yearly.
 
The “C” word is the very very worst word I have every heard, especially if you have no experience with it. But the research is so great and they’re moving by metes and bounds! There are so many more discoveries and trials that they’re doing. It is no longer the death sentence that it used to be although it sure feels like it when you first hear those dreaded words.

  “words of wisdom” that have helped me
  • I try to journal every day or every second day. I’m not much at cursive writing, but I do keep a journal on my computer
  • My mantra is: Don’t give up on HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day! It is important to never give up on hope! Ask questions, seek out information and do look after yourself!
  • Give yourself time. I did not want to share my diagnoses with anyone except for close family (my children) and very close friends. I still am not very comfortable sharing that I have lung cancer with people I don’t know, or people I do know. I sometimes think that their sympathy will make me cry. There is a stigma attached to lung cancer, and the first question is always “Did you smoke?” I have learned from the CancerConnection.ca website that the best reply is “If you have lungs, you can have lung cancer”.
  • When cancer gives you 100 reasons to cry, show cancer that you have 1,000 reasons to smile. That’s how you beast this disease!
There is such a thing as “scanxiety”. I get it every time I’m getting closer to my scan date. I hope this will change, but if it doesn’t, I’ll deal with it.
My fatigue is getting better. I think that perhaps now it is a result of upcoming scans, and not from the treatment. I need to go with it, and when I feel like I’m going to “crash and burn” I need to sit and have a rest. My husband always knows before I do when I’m going to crash. I try to do too much and I really don’t want to sit down.


My supporters are my husband who shuttled me back and forth to the Cancer Clinic, my appointments. He prepared meals for me and bullied me to eat them. He prodded and pushed me to exercise when I completed treatments and I was so fatigued that I felt I couldn’t get out of my chair. My daughters were so supportive, with the many phone calls and face times, text messages. Old friends and new friends. People I have met in our community, and when I felt comfortable enough to share with them that I had/have cancer, they have become close friends. Many of them pray for me. I’ve rekindled with some old friends as well who are extremely supportive.  My brothers kept in close contact and provided a lot of comfort when I needed it. My in-laws kept in close contact.
My quilting buddies were and are still so supportive.
It was difficult over the pandemic as face to face contact was quite limited, but there were many phone calls, texts and messages. It has been difficult to lean on people over this time, but I know I needed to.

I have always sewed and I did quilt before my cancer treatment. If anything, I am more precise with my sewing/quilting. I have sewed a number of quilts for charity. A quilter/sewer always has so many scraps, and they do make such beautiful quits. I also started making cards with embroidery … so much fun!
These are quilts I made for my nephew and his daughter (the second one is from scraps from other quilts I have finished).

     
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 I have always walked and when I stayed in the Cancer Lodge they had a study relating to exercise and cancer. As a result, I started Nordic Walking (or Pole Dancing as our neighbour jokingly suggested) HaHa! I now walk between 2 and 4 miles a day. It’s sometimes difficult when the weather is extremely hot to walk that far, but I do try for at least 2 miles, and usually get in between 11,000 and 12,000 steps in a day, whether it’s around the house or on my normal walk in the nature.
I also started with the Excel Study (exercise and cancer) through the University of Calgary. It is great in that they watch you for the first sessions to make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly, then you carry on by yourself with their followup lessons (Ace).

 CancerConnection.ca has been so helpful. There is so much knowledge and support in the site. People are willing to answer questions, give you support when you need it. One lady reached out to me and we have become fast friends over the site. I wish that the oncologists and family doctors would provide this website to individuals as soon as they are diagnosed with cancer. There is a ton of comfort on the site.
Remember, someone who has not traveled the cancer journey does not understand what you’re going through! CancerConnection.ca is a place where you can talk about anything and no one will minimalize what you’re going through.
 
I was scared, heartbroken, worried when I got my diagnosis. I have learned how to manage the anxiety somewhat, and I have spoken to many many people who have lived many years after their treatment for lung cancer. A high school girlfriend’s dad had cancer some 40 or so years ago and he lived 25 years after treatment. Another lady was diagnosed over 15 years ago and she’s still going strong. The statistics that are posted are very old and not current.
My oncologists have not been a ray of sunshine through this journey. My last checkup was the first time I heard anything positive … that I was in remission. The other checkups were doom and gloom. In one of the appointments my oncologist told me I may only have 4, 6 or 8 years to live! That was scary! That was because of a scan that showed inflammation of my bronchial lymph nodes.
You need to try to live your best life and put the cancer to the back of your mind (sometimes so easy to say and so so hard to do!) Do reach out if you need any support. CancerConnection.ca is a great site, the Family Counsellor at the Cancer Clinic is another great person to talk to.
And know that you are not alone!
Linda

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Linda. And for the record, any meditation that includes dancing, sounds like my kind of meditation!

If you are interested in sharing your story and being featured in a future Meet Your Neighbour, please reach out to Lianne at cancerconnection@cancer.ca


 




Comments

MommyT‍ Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You certainly have a full life, quilting, embroidery, exercise, 'pole dancing', journalling, lots of people! So much worth living for. I feel your positivity and am drawn to it.
Take care,
Sadie
  • Posted Fri 15 Jul 2022 02:08 AM EDT
MommyT‍ - Nice to meet you. Like the quilted image of your fur-baby, your shared story has so much vibrancy! Yay for all the good things in your life from supportive family and friends to handicrafts to remission 🧡🎉 I'd love to see one of your embroidered cards posted here on CC - what a neat idea.
Christine
  • Posted Thu 14 Jul 2022 12:01 AM EDT
Thanks for sharing your story MommyT‍. It can take courage to share so much about yourself, but I'm sure you helped at least one person today because they could identify with your story. So much of what you said rings true. I really like your quote, "When cancer gives you 100 reasons to cry, show cancer that you have 1,000 reasons to smile." I can also identify with the quilting. I certainly don't quilt. I have no skill there, but I live through my mother. She is 87 and sews quilt tops together and then sends them to an organization who then does the rest of the quilting and sends the quilts to those in need. In 5 years she has sewn about 600 quilt tops. She is like a well-oiled machine, and I'm glad that the nursing home that she went to will allow her to continue to sew.

Part of the sanity of the cancer experience is finding something that you like to do. I'm glad that colouring, quilting, and walking are working for you.

Thanks again for sharing.

cancertakesflight
  • Posted Tue 12 Jul 2022 04:07 AM EDT
MommyT
good morning from over here--always nice to meet the neighbours!

isn't it funny how we can have completely different diagnosis' but still have similar experiences??? I too was a #COVIDCANCER baby....fun.... #NOTfun.

scanxiety is just awful, isn't it? you would think that as time goes along we would get better; not worse......I hope for you that's true!

anyhoo....thanks for the lovely recount of your cancer story and the pictures are FABULOUS. i LOVE a handmade quilt. the quilted card sounds interesting....around here there is a maker who is turning old quilts, (obviously the thin ones), into beautiful clothing.....really, really spectacular.
everything old is new again at some point!

I am 100% on the Fudge Cancer team...thanks for your words of wisdom to remind me that there can be joy during and after a cancer diagnosis.

sending all my best; enjoy your family, enjoy your sewing; enjoy your life!
cheers
su
#meetthecancerneighbors #fudgecancer #lungcancer #familysupport


  • Posted Wed 06 Jul 2022 01:16 PM EDT
MommyT‍ Hi Linda...thank you for sharing your "Journey", here, with us.....I luv the Rainbow Photo.....your beloved pet/dog.....your quilts, made and shared with skill and hope for others to receive.......How fortunate you are, to have such a wide support system...hubby, brothers, daughters....this is terrific...they supported you; every step of the way......(Keep colouring, in your Colouring Book !)
I am sure the Lodge stay, was welcoming, and a relief, to be close, and safe......and cared for.
YAY 4 Remission!
Celebrate this every day.....
And as you shared: "Don't Give Up Hope!"
So glad to read more about you Linda.....
Whitelilies
  • Posted Wed 06 Jul 2022 01:48 AM EDT

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