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I have friends who lost their daughter the day she was born.

I have a great-aunt who turns 100 next month.

We arrive in this life not knowing the length or shape of our future … but sometimes we find out.

My lifespan is going to fall squarely in the middle. I was recently diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. It has metastasized to my liver.

I’ve tried to write this blog post in my head several times, and it never sounds right. So please … forgive the blunt words. I was going to attempt eloquence, but I can’t find any.

I’ve been lucky for twenty years. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27, and I didn’t expect to make it to 32. But I did, and once I passed that five-year mark … I started to think I was going to live. At age 34, I had my beautiful son. Two years ago, my dream of being a published author came true. And during these twenty years, my beloved has been by my side. We rode the marriage roller coaster together, sometimes laughing and sometimes screaming.

So lucky.

I’m not angry about the diagnosis. How can I feel angry when I had this gift of time? I’m not even afraid of dying. We all die, and I made my peace with that a long time ago.

I’m just sad. Why does my husband have to go through this again?

And devastated. I would step in front of my son to take a bullet for him. But now I feel like the one pulling the trigger.

I had lots of travel plans and writing plans. More trips to Europe … more visits to sunny beaches … more books to write. I get at least one email a day asking me why I ended The Mermaid’s Mirror the way I did. A sequel is first on my list of projects.

But overnight, illness has become my full-time job. I have a “PICC” line inserted in my vein which is used to deliver IV nutrition directly into my body. I’ve had challenges eating, and this way I’m getting nutrition while I try to eat and drink regular food. But it requires a lot of careful, sterile work – overnight, my husband has become a caretaker. There are visiting nurses, and calls from pharmacy techs and dietitians, and prescriptions to manage, and general overwhelmed-ness.

On the love side, if the sheer number of prayers, good wishes, love, hope, flowers, meals, gifts, and letters could create a miraculous recovery, I would be healed. I haven’t even been able to thank everyone properly yet.

On the medical side, I joined a study for an experimental drug (although I ended up in the control group, which gets standard treatment). I had my first chemo treatment yesterday. Feeling okay so far.

I knew this would be a tough road, but I didn’t expect some of the obstacles … I can barely walk anymore. Some weird, rare side effect of the illness has caused swelling and painful lesions on my feet and lower legs. We’re trying to get it under control with pain meds, but it’s a process. Just like The Little Mermaid, each step I take is like walking on knives. I had to arrive for my first treatment yesterday in a wheelchair.

My fingers are getting sore and swollen, too. Typing this entry has been not just a mental challenge, but a physical one. So please forgive me if I don’t respond to comments.


That’s it for now, friends.




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Jan. 14th, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
You're so strong, Lisa. Love from Paris. ~ Heather
Jan. 15th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
Your grace in dealing with this horrible news is inspiring.

My thoughts are with you.

Shelley Moore Thomas
Jan. 15th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
We don't know each other but you're in my thoughts and prayers. And this couldn't have been more eloquent if you tried. God bless.
Jan. 15th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Jan. 15th, 2011 03:20 am (UTC)
I will hold you and your whole family inside my prayers. Your bravery and gratitude humble me completely
Jan. 15th, 2011 04:45 am (UTC)
I am stunned by this news.
Words seem inadequate. Thank you for your novel Flash Burnout. It allowed my son and I to reconnect.

peace to you and yours.
Jan. 15th, 2011 07:27 am (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2011 07:30 am (UTC)
This was eloquent to me, Lisa. Sending love love love your way. Praying for strength, hope and that you be as pain free as possible.
Jan. 15th, 2011 08:02 am (UTC)
Sending you positive thoughts and virtual foot cushions. I hope hope hope you and your family find some small comforts and joys in this difficult time.
Jan. 15th, 2011 10:54 am (UTC)
Lisa, I didn't realise you were sick until now :( You're a very brave lady and my thoughts and prayers are with you x
Jan. 15th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Praying for you and your family.

Edited at 2011-01-15 04:11 pm (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
Lisa - your approach and post remind me of my father, another person who had to deal with what you're going through. I will tell you that his attitude affected everyone around him for the better, and influences and helps me to this very day. It all sucks, no question, and nothing any of us say changes that at the root. But for whatever it's worth, I am proof that what you're doing in your actions (and this post) does make a difference to those you love and who love you. All positive vibes sent to you and yours - Greg
Jan. 15th, 2011 11:45 pm (UTC)
I'm thankful PJV posted this link to the blueboards so your writing community could surround you "virtually" at this time.
This is a time to be blunt but I have to disagree with you - you did write with eloquence & passion ... you've struck the hearts of everyone who has commented (and many more who have read and haven't commented)
You and your family are in my thoughts!
Angela Cerrito
(Angela on the blueboards)
Jan. 16th, 2011 12:36 am (UTC)
I read this post and write this comment from Moffitt Cancer Center, where my mother is recovering from lung surgery.

They found lung cancer. We don't yet know the stage, treatments or prognosis.

My heart is with you and your family.

As a daughter in the same situation, I say, put your energy into facing the challenges you have to face. You have been strong for your son in the past. Let him do you the honor of being strong for you now. He will want to and he will.

I wish you more time - as much as there is in the world.
Jan. 16th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
Holding you in my heart. Your Portland writing community is right here--what ever you need--as long as it takes.
Jan. 16th, 2011 04:23 am (UTC)
Stay strong
Lisa, I'm writing to you as a fellow (childhood) cancer survivor. My parents were told that I wasn't supposed to live past five years old. My daughter, born 3 months early and at 2 pounds, wasn't supposed to have a normal healthy life. All of these things that we were told, we didn't accept. We fought. We beat the odds because we never gave up the fight. You are strong and brave and a fighter and you will beat this too. It takes so much courage and strength to embark on the path ahead of you, but all the love and positive energy and hope that is being sent your way will help you forge through this difficult time. Stay strong. Believe in your ability to defeat this challenge and defy the odds. And know that love and prayers and healing thoughts are being sent your way by so many people. You ARE a survivor.
Jan. 16th, 2011 11:44 am (UTC)
Words certainly do abandon me right now; what to say? Thank you for your honesty and openess. All I have to offer are my prayers for strength, for healing and for comfort.
May the Lord be with you and your family during this horrendous time!
Jan. 16th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
You have my prayers. They're soaring upward for you!!! May the God of healing give you a miracle. Much blessing and love to you.
Jan. 16th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
Lisa, you inspire me. And I am praying for you like nobody's business. <3
Jan. 16th, 2011 05:54 pm (UTC)
Dear Lisa,
Words cannot adequately express my feelings.
My heart goes out to you and your family.
I love your writing and your Tweets.
*gentle hugs*
Love to you & yours,
Jan. 16th, 2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
You and your family are in my prayers Lisa! I hope that things start looking up even if it's small things. *hugs*
Jan. 17th, 2011 01:00 am (UTC)
My prayers are with you and your precious family.
Jan. 17th, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
This morning a special friend contacted me with the news that the test results she thought were good, in fact were later clarified to indicate she has breast cancer. She knows how unsettling the news is for me since I've had my own battle with uterine cancer. For both of us, however, the prognosis was encouraging. A fellow blogger, debut author Sandi Rog, is currently dealing with agressive Stage 4 T-cell Lymphoma. What she has said helps me when I want to scream how unfair this all is. "God is the One Who has numbered my days on this earth. I belong to Him. He's in control, not me, and not anyone else."

My prayers wend their way to you for strength during the treatment, peace during the pain and the comforting assurance of God's care. I pray for you and your family. It's a difficult time for all of you. And I pray for the miracle of healing.

Carol Garvin
Jan. 17th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)

All I can say is enjoy each moment. Hug the ones you love the most and tell them they matter to you. If you can write them some letters on paper with pen so they have them to hold on to in the future.

You are in my prayers...I know we don't know each other, but pancreatic problems seem to run in my family. ((hugs)))

Jan. 17th, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
I don't know what to say that could possibly be adequate, but please know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers.
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