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Hard News

tomorrow another day



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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.

Well.

That’s it for now, friends.

Love,

Lisa

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careann.wordpress.com
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
sharon_mayhew1
Jan. 17th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
Lisa,

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)))

(Anonymous)
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.
rutasepetys
Jan. 17th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
You are in my thoughts and prayers, Lisa!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 17th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
I am so very sorry to hear this news. Cancer has so much to answer for. My words feel so pale and unworthy at a time like this, but thank you for enriching us all with your presense and your wonderful writing.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
(Anonymous)
Jan. 17th, 2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
Dear Lisa
Although we don't know each other, we have a mutual friend, I will keep you and your family in my thoughts. I, too, have a terminal illness and am going through a tough time. To help with my typing I have "Dragon naturally speaking" which types what I speak, and once you learn it is a great tool. I have been married 35 yrs. and have 3 great kids, and often feel guilty for what I am putting them through, although I know it's not my doing. Hang in there and be strong.
Pisinat
Jan. 17th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
I don't know what to say... I'm crying right now while I read your words... My thoughts are with you.
latteya
Jan. 18th, 2011 12:03 am (UTC)
I'm so so sorry. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. Stephanie
daybydaywriter.wordpress.com
Jan. 18th, 2011 04:40 am (UTC)
You're in my prayers
Hi Lisa,

I read about your illness on the 2009 Debutantes blog and will definitely be posting about your books tomorrow.

I know you've got plenty of people supporting you and praying for you. That's wonderful. Now you have one more ... for you, your family and all those who have cancer.

Be well.

God bless.
readingteen
Jan. 18th, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)
I haven't read your books yet, but the beautiful words written by all of your friends have led me to your site. You must be an amazing person to have touched so many people in such a profound way. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, especially your son. You are an inspiration!
Jennifer Sprague
Jan. 18th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
Blessings
First (((BIG HUGS)))
Second...my mom has been dealing with this for the past year...there is hope, don't give up...she's in remission now, we're praying, after 6 rounds of Chemo, pain meds, being unable to walk, talk or think straight...she's working hard at coming back to life now, it's a slow road...but you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 18th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
I lost my dear friend and neighbour to pancreatic cancer four years ago. Throughout her illness, she laughed and smiled as if she had another fifty years to sip on wine, create her quilts and look at the stars. I like to believe she's still sewing together a tapestry of smiles.

I hope you will feel better, and maybe have a chance to travel to one special place you've been holding in your heart.

Bless you.

Sandra Cormier
(Anonymous)
Jan. 18th, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
My Thoughts With You...
I, blessedly, do not have pancreatic cancer but live in its shadow. I have chronic pancreatitis. I can only imagine that pain you must deal with and the things you are already missing--your favorite foods, walking & dancing, having energy to do it all.

I write this to tell you about an amazing drug for cancer patients. I used it off-label, prior to the FDA making it "cancer patients only" due to its strength. It is called Actiq. It was a God-send during my worst times. It is for pain that breaks through the regular meds. Maybe something better is out there now, but I try to share this drug with those I know are hurting and could use it.

Make life the best you can. Enjoy every moment! Don't let the pain take that from you or your family.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Beth
inetsupergrrl
Jan. 19th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
This post was beautifully done, Lisa. I am a fan of your work and want to thank you for your stories and give you ((hugs)). More prayers added to those already given, from me.
aome
Jan. 19th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
I'm here via jamarattigan. I confess I have not read your books and did not know of you at all until her own recent post, but I wanted to come over to add my positive vibes and prayers to the multitudes who have already come before me. A friend of mine lost her brother to liver cancer in his early 20s and I had a PICC line in my own arm just over four years ago, when my Crohn's disease triggered a flareup of cytomegalovirus. So - although I do not pretend to understand the magnitude of what you are dealing with, I do certainly remember how much of a #$O(!%! the PICC line was to deal with, on top of whatever other medical issues are at hand. It can all feel like so, so much, too much. I admire the grace and strength you clearly possess, and I hope your son and spouse gain grace and strength through you in the days and weeks to come.

May the Higher Power (whatever you call Him or Her) watch over you, now and always.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 19th, 2011 05:19 am (UTC)
Love You Lisa
Dear Lisa,
After reading your post, I feel like I know you. I've never read any of your books before, but I will now so I can get to know you better.
I'm praying for you and for your family. I don't know what to ask for on your behalf- strength, grace, everything and more- I;m not so wise that i know what it is that you will need on this difficult journey, so I'm just offering you up to God in prayer with all the love that your blunt words and courage in the face of this has inspired in me.
I recently read the Theology of the Body for Teens which is a text book version of Jaun Paul II's encyclical, and it taught me that love is willing the good of another person. Love is a choice, and I choose to love you and your family and to ask God to bless you all.
Love,
A Friend
artistq
Jan. 19th, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
Lisa,
It is a week since I first read this post. I hope they are able to better manage your pain.
Sending you love and light.
~XO
Laura


Edited at 2011-01-19 06:29 am (UTC)
mayraldole.wordpress.com
Jan. 19th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
You are so courageous
I am sending you and your family love and strenght. You are so courageous...
(Anonymous)
Jan. 19th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
Hugs and Prayers
Dear Lisa;

Your courage and grace in the face of so much difficulty is an inspiration to all of us. I wish to the core of my heart and soul that I could offer you something more than just an enormous wish that a miracle can be found for you. If anyone deserves it, it's you. I can't imagine how difficult this is for your husband and son, and I wish them all the goodness in the world. I honestly don't know what else I can give you except as a fellow writer I'm glad I know of you and your work.

Much love,
Ilanna
jennifer_j_s
Jan. 20th, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
Lisa, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. It's hard to find the right words, but I know that you know lots and lots and lots of people--and even more than that--are thinking good thoughts at you.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 20th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
Prayers
You don't me and I don't know you personally. I reviewed The Mermaid's Mirror on my blog and Goodreads and fell in love with your story telling. I know you hoped to do much more as we hoped you would. It was such a beautiful story. I can't say how sorry I am that you're going through what you are right now. I hope they find a cure tomorrow or maybe even tonight so that you can go on with your story telling you don't have to feel like you're pulling the trigger and you can be with the love of your life for at least another twenty years. Peace to you and your family. Heather Rosdol
(Anonymous)
Jan. 20th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC)
Warm wishes
I will be praying for you and your family.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 21st, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
Sending you my prayers and love.

~Rummanah
(Anonymous)
Jan. 21st, 2011 05:22 pm (UTC)
I don't know you but I'm a fellow writer and I know pain. You write with grace and dignity. It's not a stretch to believe you live that way as well. Bless you and your loved ones.

Frank Baron
susanuhlig
Jan. 21st, 2011 11:49 pm (UTC)
Praying for a miracle for you.

Flash Burnout was so well done! I recommended it on my blog. Will go check out your Mermaid book, too.
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