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Susan Cornett

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  1. Like
    Susan Cornett reacted to LCSC Blog for a blog entry, "And Awaaay We Go!"   
    As Jackie Gleason would say as he segued from his monologue into the sketch comedy that followed on his Saturday night entertainment hour on CBS. So too does my entertainment - or lack thereof, continue. Six weeks or so after my treatment for thyroid cancer (three pills a day) began, per doctor's orders, we have put a halt to the proceedings. Due to increasing values in my bi-weekly lab work (monitored exactly for this purpose), specifically my kidney and liver functions, I am standing down and standing by. We will retest this coming Thursday and then wait for further instructions (smaller dose, intermittent dose, no dose?). In addition, some of the side effects that I am experiencing (fatigue, shortness of breath, a little depression/a little malaise) also encouraged my oncologist to pause the treatment. Hopefully, it's "the pause that refreshes," as Bud Collins the long time tennis commentator for NBC once said to describe female tennis star, Amanda Paz.
    The lab work is the first line of defense and indicator, along with side effects as to what might be going on inside. A scan would be useful as well but due to the radiation exposure, the doctors try to keep its use to an absolute minimum. And since I'm not scheduled to be scanned for another month (every two months), my status is best determined by how I feel and what the lab work shows. In the interim, I will ride the roller coaster of emotions and fear and try to enjoy the reduction in the side effects (which I can do. I'm good that way). I just have to hope that the values in my next lab work go back down or I may very well go off the rails and onto some other ride that might not be so manageable.
    All that remains is "all that remains." Nothing in my life/caner routine is likely to change much. Again, what I have I've been told is that what I have incurable: stage IV papillary thyroid cancer, the kind that doesn't respond to radio iodine therapy, so every minute of every day will be spent hoping, praying, wondering and waiting to see if the end is near or thankfully not near at all, like a mirage, almost. Just another day in my cancer conundrum. As Tom Branson said on an episode during the final season of Downtown Abbey about something completely unrelated: "What a palaver!" But that's really what being a cancer patient is all about: confusion, lack of clarity, few guarantees and changes in your attitude along with your latitude if Jimmy Buffet were writing this column. If my wife were, it would be about going with the flow. However, since I'm writing it, it's about changes, constant change; sometimes more of the same, something completely different. and being prepared, always, to go up and down and all around and everything in between. It's highs, it's lows and its all-overs, too. It may not sound like a great way to make a living, but I can assure you, it sure beats the alternative.
    As my mother used to say: "enjoy poor health," especially since it doesn't seem likely I'll be changing horses anytime soon. But I can do it. I'm a Red Sox fan; I've lived with disappointment and determination my whole life - and thankfully, I've lived to see some World Championships, too. The goal is to try and keep moving forward and remain positive. Like my old friend Ray use to say: "my attitude is my blood type: B+." What's another blip on the cancer radar? I've been on it so long now, since Feb. 2009, that it would be abnormal not to appear. And since the experts have been telling me that it's unlikely I won't be off the grid until it's too there's either a new grid or a new drug, I am happy to take a break in the short term if it it helps in the long term. Because the goal is to finish, not to falter.
  2. Like
    Susan Cornett reacted to Tom Galli for a blog entry, 10 Steps to Surviving Lung Cancer from a Survivor   
    MY STEPS TO SURVIVING A LUNG CANCER DIAGNOSIS
    Step 1 – Invest in sophisticated diagnosics before diagnosis
    If you smoke, were a long-term smoker, or are in an occupation that exposes you to carcinogenic toxins (asbestos removal, auto mechanic, painter, etc.), I suggest getting a computed tomography (CT) scan, often called a CAT scan, of the chest once a year. Insurance now covers it and CT will detect tumors far earlier than a chest x-ray. Early detection of small tumors dramatically enhances your survival chances. I had a chest x-ray in January 2004 and was diagnosed with stage 3b, non-small cell lung cancer the following month. The tumor hadn’t shown on the x-ray; but at diagnosis, it was almost 3 inches long and ½ inch in diameter. The only symptom I had was coughing up blood the day before diagnosis. Learn more about early CT screening.
    Step 2 – Choose a good general practitioner 
    Your general practitioner may be the manager of your lung cancer treatment. The GP likely will pick your cancer team and may need to do a little arm-twisting to get things moving. Therefore, there can be great benefits to having a GP who is seasoned and well known in the medical community. I prefer doctors of osteopathic medicine to medical doctors. I’ve found that in my experience the former treat people, not patients. I believe a good physician shows kindness, consideration, and compassion toward those in his or her care. These characteristics are essential. Be sure you know your GP and your GP knows you. Such knowledge and trust will give you a survival edge. There are great health care professionals out there.
    Step 3 – Ensure your oncologist is a physician
    A doctor has a degree in medicine and a license to practice. A physician is devoted to restoring, maintaining, and promoting your good health. My physician oncologist does a complete examination (looks in eyes, nose, and throat, checks pulse in the extremities, checks reflexes, listens to breathing and heart rate) every visit. He reviews and explains all test results and asks how I feel. He looks at me as I speak, and he listens and makes notes on what I say. He carefully explains medical treatment alternatives that may arrest the disease, and together we choose each next step. He never rushes consultations and, consequently, often is late to scheduled appointments. Because his tardiness results from spending time with those he treats, I know he cares about me and every other patient. These are some characteristics your physician oncologist should possess.
    Step 4 – Learn about your disease
    At diagnosis, I had no idea what lung cancer was. Moreover, I didn’t know what an oncologist did, nor could I spell the word! After diagnosis, I read everything I could find about the disease; a good resource is the www.LUNGevity.org website. Then I read medical journals, government reports, research papers, and studies. I made notes about things I didn’t understand and asked questions at my oncology consultations. My wife attended every consultation, procedure, and test to ensure every question was asked and answered, and that we understood the answers. You need to know about type, stage, statistics, radiation, diagnostics, chemotherapy, side effects, surgical options, and so much more. Your chances of survival are improved if you are informed enough to ask highly perceptive questions.
    Step 5 – Acquire a sanguine attitude quickly
    Cancer is a disease of death; lung cancer kills more than all other cancers. Your attitude toward treatment is, I believe, essential to survival. When you acquire a sanguine attitude, your treatment team will notice your optimism. They will enjoy interacting with you; they will care about you. I strongly suggest you read Stephen Jay Gould’s essay “The Median Isn’t the Message” to help you understand survival statistics and find optimism about what appear to be bleak probability of survival projections. Join a cancer blog or messageboard. I am a member of several where I can broadcast my complaints and protestations to people who understand and have useful advice for coping. Find cancer support groups and join one. Most people who treat you have no idea how you are feeling. But survivors in cancer support groups understand; they know how you feel—you’ll fit right in!
    Step 6 – Any port in a storm
    There is no such thing as “a little stick!” During procedures and treatment, almost everyone will attempt to gain access to your veins with an intravenous device of some type. All such intrusions are uncomfortable, and unless the practitioner is good and lucky he or she will miss more often than not. If your treatment involves intravenously administered chemotherapy, you likely will get stuck at least once a week. A good way to avoid discomfort and frustration is to ask for a port. Installation involves simple, low-risk surgery. Once in place, you need to keep the area clean and exercise precautions when bathing—but access to your veins is no longer a storm but a port in a storm!
    Step 7 – Don’t believe the miracle cure
    The consequences of a lung cancer diagnosis are frightening. For most, it will be your first serious encounter with the prospect of death. When you type “lung cancer” into Google, you will be bombarded by advertisement that promises miracle cure at considerable expense. There is no such thing as a miracle cure! Before you invest time (now precious) investigating one of these “too good to be true” remedies, check it out on www.quackwatch.org and discuss it with your physician. Oncology is a medical science. Procedures, drugs, and protocols are tested using scientific methods that are published and reviewed by peers and regulating organizations. When science-based breakthroughs are discovered, they are broadcast very quickly throughout the practitioner community.Read about Steve Jobs—one of the smartest technologists and businessmen the world has ever known—who delayed his cancer treatment.
    Step 8 – Don’t try to tough it out
    I am a retired soldier and believed I was man enough to handle almost anything. Cancer proved to be the “anything” I could not handle! I suffered a long time trying to tough it out before I admitted I was depressed. My physician’s response: “Of course you are depressed—how could you not be?” He prescribed appropriate medication, arranged consultations with a psychologist, and suggested I attend support groups. Unless you are tougher than I, you will experience depression. Admit it and accept help. Here are some other things you might try. Ask for the “freeze spray” before an IV is used. If claustrophobic, get a script for Xanax and take it shortly before scans. Even in summer, wear warm clothing to diagnostic and infusion sessions. Some areas where these take place are kept very cold. Many treatment centers have volunteers—engage one in conversation. Many are survivors or caregivers and have a wealth of helpful information. During consultations, I was so frightened I couldn’t rationally ask questions about results or next steps, and I certainly couldn’t remember what was said. Consequently, I never go alone to a consultation. I suggest if you can, always have someone with you too.
    Step 9 – Become a calendar maniac
    If you have a smartphone with a calendar application, become an expert in its use. If not, keep a paper “cancer calendar” to record information. Your life after diagnosis will likely become filled with scheduled appointments, and given the nature of the disease and intensity of the battle, these are appointments you don’t want to miss. For example, my chemotherapy cycle required an infusion every third Friday. I had to record three rounds of steroid medication taken every six hours before each infusion. I had a scheduled blood test every Monday following infusion. Nausea started Sunday morning and lasted until Tuesday. Joint pain started Wednesday and lasted until Saturday. If I took the nausea medication about an hour before onset, symptoms often were minimal. Furthermore, if I started pain medication a couple of hours before onset, my pain was manageable. I used the alarm feature on my phone to warn me in advance. Plus, there was life to live, and the calendar helped me avoid conflicts between my cancer treatment schedule and my life events schedule.
    Step 10 – Choose to live
    When asked about my cancer experience, I often tell those in treatment that cancer is a disease of life or death. I believe if you choose treatment, you are choosing life. And if you choose to live, do something with the life you are given. The “something” will be different for each of us, but doing whatever you enjoy or find fulfilling is so important. If you enjoyed an activity before diagnosis, do it afterward. Look at yourself in the mirror every morning. If you don’t see an expiration date stamped on your forehead, then enjoy the day and look forward to the next! Oh, by the way, your hair will grow back! Baldness is a beautiful badge of courage.
    Stay the course.
  3. Like
    Susan Cornett reacted to LCSC Blog for a blog entry, Safeguarding My Future   
    Whether or not I'm certain about my attitude toward being a dual cancer threat (non-small cell lung and papillary thyroid, cancer), only my subconscious knows for sure. This was recently made clear to when I provided my supermarket shopping preferences to my wife, Dina, who for reasons she takes very seriously (my health) won't let me go into stores to buy anything. Ergo, my list. And I may add, there is much adieu about those preferences. It's like a negotiation. Though not exactly partisan, the debates rage on and I'm lucky if I see more than a handful of requests honored from my list. In effect, Dina is my gatekeeper (you'll note I didn't say jailor).
    There are some requests which are rarely obstructed: health and fitness, fruits and vegetables, meat and potatoes and any other non-dessert/snack-type item. I'm not going to bore you readers by saying how long it's been since I've had a Hostess cupcake or an Entenmann's cake or a TastyKake anything; I wouldn't want you to feel sorry for me. In spite of this food censorship, I'm hardly wasting away. Though I've lost some weight, mostly due to my low iodine diet a few months back (as part of my thyroid cancer treatment), it was weight I could certainly afford to lose.
    Now that I've lost it, Dina doesn't want me to gain it all back. Which I can understand and appreciate. Overweight often leads to any number of problems: hypertension, diabetes and even heart disease, to name a few possible complications. Still, I have my food requirements (OKAY, needs) and unless I get them, Kenny will become even more of a dull boy than he already is. So far, Dina is not budging. I wouldn't quite say she's the immovable object, but she definitely remains an obstacle to my caloric happiness.
    And the 'caloric happiness' to which I refer are basically Kenny's four food groups: cake, cookies, candy, and ice cream, which also explains my presumptive epitaph: "He never met a carbohydrate he didn't eat." But when the conversation moves to other, less controversial items, the conversation is much less problematic and maybe even indicative of who I am, what I've become, and how I assess my future prospects (life expectancy).
    When one receives a cancer diagnosis, your brain gets rewired (figuratively speaking) and your choices become sort of a window to your soul. Things you want/don't want become tells of what's being debated in your brain. Initially, after hearing your cancer diagnosis, it's unnatural almost to want what you used to want. It feels trivial. Your frame of reference and context, narrow and shorten. When the future you anticipated is snatched away, it's not only time which is taken. Hopes, dreams, and normalcy are snatched away as well. And sometimes, without even realizing it, a request is made which inadvertently illuminates the route to the light at the end of the tunnel.
    That moment occurred for me during last week's supermarket list discussion. Aside from the usual stuff that likely would need to be re-ordered, I ordered something new, without it being considered in the context of cancer (basically an abbreviated timeline). I asked Dina to order me an eight-pack of soap bars, an amount of soap that would probably last a few months, at a minimum. A 'minimum' which you don't necessarily anticipate. Not that a cancer diagnosis automatically shortens your life, but generally speaking, it is bad for business, if you know what I mean? A business which, apparently, I'm now willing to invest in. Maybe time is on my side after all.
  4. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from PaulaC for a blog entry, Ready for yet another new normal   
    I haven't been on here much in the last few months, maybe a year. Work kept me much busier than usual but I *think* that is going to finally level out now that we've hired a new director and a couple of additional consultants. I also find it more difficult to break away from my work when my daily commute is now just a walk down the hall. I'm fortunate - and I know it - because I've been able to continue working without interruption. My employer has offices in CA, FL, NJ, OH, and TX and all of our offices were closed through May. They continue to encourage us to stay home through June and to come back at our new pace. 
    Now I have to figure out what this new "new normal" looks like for me. When do I return to the office? Should I return? When can I go see my parents? I know that we don't have a crystal ball but I'd love to have an idea of what's next. I take an annual beach trip with my girlfriends in September but I'm beginning to think that won't happen this year. Two of my friends have jobs that require them to interact with people all day. Even if I drive to our destination, they will all be coming off an airplane and possibly exposing me. I know the beach will still be there next year but this is one of those trips that I look forward to all year.
    I see Super Doc in a couple of weeks and Super Pulmonologist in July. Hopefully they'll have some thoughts on all of this. Until then, I'll continue to stay at home. Ugh.
    Please stay well, friends.
  5. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Roz for a blog entry, Ready for yet another new normal   
    I haven't been on here much in the last few months, maybe a year. Work kept me much busier than usual but I *think* that is going to finally level out now that we've hired a new director and a couple of additional consultants. I also find it more difficult to break away from my work when my daily commute is now just a walk down the hall. I'm fortunate - and I know it - because I've been able to continue working without interruption. My employer has offices in CA, FL, NJ, OH, and TX and all of our offices were closed through May. They continue to encourage us to stay home through June and to come back at our new pace. 
    Now I have to figure out what this new "new normal" looks like for me. When do I return to the office? Should I return? When can I go see my parents? I know that we don't have a crystal ball but I'd love to have an idea of what's next. I take an annual beach trip with my girlfriends in September but I'm beginning to think that won't happen this year. Two of my friends have jobs that require them to interact with people all day. Even if I drive to our destination, they will all be coming off an airplane and possibly exposing me. I know the beach will still be there next year but this is one of those trips that I look forward to all year.
    I see Super Doc in a couple of weeks and Super Pulmonologist in July. Hopefully they'll have some thoughts on all of this. Until then, I'll continue to stay at home. Ugh.
    Please stay well, friends.
  6. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Tom Galli for a blog entry, Ready for yet another new normal   
    I haven't been on here much in the last few months, maybe a year. Work kept me much busier than usual but I *think* that is going to finally level out now that we've hired a new director and a couple of additional consultants. I also find it more difficult to break away from my work when my daily commute is now just a walk down the hall. I'm fortunate - and I know it - because I've been able to continue working without interruption. My employer has offices in CA, FL, NJ, OH, and TX and all of our offices were closed through May. They continue to encourage us to stay home through June and to come back at our new pace. 
    Now I have to figure out what this new "new normal" looks like for me. When do I return to the office? Should I return? When can I go see my parents? I know that we don't have a crystal ball but I'd love to have an idea of what's next. I take an annual beach trip with my girlfriends in September but I'm beginning to think that won't happen this year. Two of my friends have jobs that require them to interact with people all day. Even if I drive to our destination, they will all be coming off an airplane and possibly exposing me. I know the beach will still be there next year but this is one of those trips that I look forward to all year.
    I see Super Doc in a couple of weeks and Super Pulmonologist in July. Hopefully they'll have some thoughts on all of this. Until then, I'll continue to stay at home. Ugh.
    Please stay well, friends.
  7. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Steff for a blog entry, 4 years!   
    Today marks 4 years of survival! By most standards, my path hasn't been as difficult as others. There have definitely been highs - when my hair grew back, my lashes grew in longer  - and lows - two recurrences and a secondary cancer diagnosis. But as I say often - I'M STILL HERE! I tell my story to anyone who will listen. People need to know that lung cancer doesn't have to be an automatic death sentence. Does it suck? Yes. Will it change your life? Definitely. But you move forward, one step at a time. Forward is forward ,no matter the speed.
    I am looking forward to the Breathe Deep Denton event in April. I enjoy visiting with the other survivors and bringing attention to this cause. I've also been asked to speak at a function in March so I'll be sharing my story again. The more the public understands lung cancer and all of its causes, the better our funding will be for research. 
    Most importantly, though, is this: I stumbled across this site one night when I was looking for answers. I have met wonderful friends - in person and online - here. Those friends have made this journey easier. Thank you, all. 
  8. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Curt for a blog entry, 4 years!   
    Today marks 4 years of survival! By most standards, my path hasn't been as difficult as others. There have definitely been highs - when my hair grew back, my lashes grew in longer  - and lows - two recurrences and a secondary cancer diagnosis. But as I say often - I'M STILL HERE! I tell my story to anyone who will listen. People need to know that lung cancer doesn't have to be an automatic death sentence. Does it suck? Yes. Will it change your life? Definitely. But you move forward, one step at a time. Forward is forward ,no matter the speed.
    I am looking forward to the Breathe Deep Denton event in April. I enjoy visiting with the other survivors and bringing attention to this cause. I've also been asked to speak at a function in March so I'll be sharing my story again. The more the public understands lung cancer and all of its causes, the better our funding will be for research. 
    Most importantly, though, is this: I stumbled across this site one night when I was looking for answers. I have met wonderful friends - in person and online - here. Those friends have made this journey easier. Thank you, all. 
  9. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Roz for a blog entry, 4 years!   
    Today marks 4 years of survival! By most standards, my path hasn't been as difficult as others. There have definitely been highs - when my hair grew back, my lashes grew in longer  - and lows - two recurrences and a secondary cancer diagnosis. But as I say often - I'M STILL HERE! I tell my story to anyone who will listen. People need to know that lung cancer doesn't have to be an automatic death sentence. Does it suck? Yes. Will it change your life? Definitely. But you move forward, one step at a time. Forward is forward ,no matter the speed.
    I am looking forward to the Breathe Deep Denton event in April. I enjoy visiting with the other survivors and bringing attention to this cause. I've also been asked to speak at a function in March so I'll be sharing my story again. The more the public understands lung cancer and all of its causes, the better our funding will be for research. 
    Most importantly, though, is this: I stumbled across this site one night when I was looking for answers. I have met wonderful friends - in person and online - here. Those friends have made this journey easier. Thank you, all. 
  10. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Sillycat1957 for a blog entry, 4 years!   
    Today marks 4 years of survival! By most standards, my path hasn't been as difficult as others. There have definitely been highs - when my hair grew back, my lashes grew in longer  - and lows - two recurrences and a secondary cancer diagnosis. But as I say often - I'M STILL HERE! I tell my story to anyone who will listen. People need to know that lung cancer doesn't have to be an automatic death sentence. Does it suck? Yes. Will it change your life? Definitely. But you move forward, one step at a time. Forward is forward ,no matter the speed.
    I am looking forward to the Breathe Deep Denton event in April. I enjoy visiting with the other survivors and bringing attention to this cause. I've also been asked to speak at a function in March so I'll be sharing my story again. The more the public understands lung cancer and all of its causes, the better our funding will be for research. 
    Most importantly, though, is this: I stumbled across this site one night when I was looking for answers. I have met wonderful friends - in person and online - here. Those friends have made this journey easier. Thank you, all. 
  11. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Rower Michelle for a blog entry, 4 years!   
    Today marks 4 years of survival! By most standards, my path hasn't been as difficult as others. There have definitely been highs - when my hair grew back, my lashes grew in longer  - and lows - two recurrences and a secondary cancer diagnosis. But as I say often - I'M STILL HERE! I tell my story to anyone who will listen. People need to know that lung cancer doesn't have to be an automatic death sentence. Does it suck? Yes. Will it change your life? Definitely. But you move forward, one step at a time. Forward is forward ,no matter the speed.
    I am looking forward to the Breathe Deep Denton event in April. I enjoy visiting with the other survivors and bringing attention to this cause. I've also been asked to speak at a function in March so I'll be sharing my story again. The more the public understands lung cancer and all of its causes, the better our funding will be for research. 
    Most importantly, though, is this: I stumbled across this site one night when I was looking for answers. I have met wonderful friends - in person and online - here. Those friends have made this journey easier. Thank you, all. 
  12. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Susanrae for a blog entry, 4 years!   
    Today marks 4 years of survival! By most standards, my path hasn't been as difficult as others. There have definitely been highs - when my hair grew back, my lashes grew in longer  - and lows - two recurrences and a secondary cancer diagnosis. But as I say often - I'M STILL HERE! I tell my story to anyone who will listen. People need to know that lung cancer doesn't have to be an automatic death sentence. Does it suck? Yes. Will it change your life? Definitely. But you move forward, one step at a time. Forward is forward ,no matter the speed.
    I am looking forward to the Breathe Deep Denton event in April. I enjoy visiting with the other survivors and bringing attention to this cause. I've also been asked to speak at a function in March so I'll be sharing my story again. The more the public understands lung cancer and all of its causes, the better our funding will be for research. 
    Most importantly, though, is this: I stumbled across this site one night when I was looking for answers. I have met wonderful friends - in person and online - here. Those friends have made this journey easier. Thank you, all. 
  13. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Kate7617 for a blog entry, 4 years!   
    Today marks 4 years of survival! By most standards, my path hasn't been as difficult as others. There have definitely been highs - when my hair grew back, my lashes grew in longer  - and lows - two recurrences and a secondary cancer diagnosis. But as I say often - I'M STILL HERE! I tell my story to anyone who will listen. People need to know that lung cancer doesn't have to be an automatic death sentence. Does it suck? Yes. Will it change your life? Definitely. But you move forward, one step at a time. Forward is forward ,no matter the speed.
    I am looking forward to the Breathe Deep Denton event in April. I enjoy visiting with the other survivors and bringing attention to this cause. I've also been asked to speak at a function in March so I'll be sharing my story again. The more the public understands lung cancer and all of its causes, the better our funding will be for research. 
    Most importantly, though, is this: I stumbled across this site one night when I was looking for answers. I have met wonderful friends - in person and online - here. Those friends have made this journey easier. Thank you, all. 
  14. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from BridgetO for a blog entry, 4 years!   
    Today marks 4 years of survival! By most standards, my path hasn't been as difficult as others. There have definitely been highs - when my hair grew back, my lashes grew in longer  - and lows - two recurrences and a secondary cancer diagnosis. But as I say often - I'M STILL HERE! I tell my story to anyone who will listen. People need to know that lung cancer doesn't have to be an automatic death sentence. Does it suck? Yes. Will it change your life? Definitely. But you move forward, one step at a time. Forward is forward ,no matter the speed.
    I am looking forward to the Breathe Deep Denton event in April. I enjoy visiting with the other survivors and bringing attention to this cause. I've also been asked to speak at a function in March so I'll be sharing my story again. The more the public understands lung cancer and all of its causes, the better our funding will be for research. 
    Most importantly, though, is this: I stumbled across this site one night when I was looking for answers. I have met wonderful friends - in person and online - here. Those friends have made this journey easier. Thank you, all. 
  15. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Tom Galli for a blog entry, 4 years!   
    Today marks 4 years of survival! By most standards, my path hasn't been as difficult as others. There have definitely been highs - when my hair grew back, my lashes grew in longer  - and lows - two recurrences and a secondary cancer diagnosis. But as I say often - I'M STILL HERE! I tell my story to anyone who will listen. People need to know that lung cancer doesn't have to be an automatic death sentence. Does it suck? Yes. Will it change your life? Definitely. But you move forward, one step at a time. Forward is forward ,no matter the speed.
    I am looking forward to the Breathe Deep Denton event in April. I enjoy visiting with the other survivors and bringing attention to this cause. I've also been asked to speak at a function in March so I'll be sharing my story again. The more the public understands lung cancer and all of its causes, the better our funding will be for research. 
    Most importantly, though, is this: I stumbled across this site one night when I was looking for answers. I have met wonderful friends - in person and online - here. Those friends have made this journey easier. Thank you, all. 
  16. Like
    Susan Cornett reacted to LCSC Blog for a blog entry, An Idiot Servant No More   
    Given the extremely sad experience I shared with you all in last week's column: "Chino Lourie, Rest in Peace," this column will be an attempt to bounce back to my usual and customary reality, one oddly enough that has nothing to do with cancer (well, much, anyway). Instead it has to do with unexpected joy.
    The joy to which I refer has to do with a subject which typically provides me little joy: I refer to our two automobiles, a 2000 Honda Accord and a 2018 Audi A4. The former inherited from my parents, payment-free but  rarely hassle-free, the latter not free of payments, unfortunately, but free of hassle since its maintenance is covered by the warranty.
    Nevertheless, for the past few years, off and mostly on, both cars have had an indication that all was not right. Each had illuminated dashboard warning lights (aka "idiot lights"), constantly reminding the driver that attention to some detail was required. For the Honda, it was twofold, a "Main't Req" light and a "Brake" light " were dashing." For the Audi, it was "onefold," an icon which looks like an upside down horseshoe, sort of, which I learned, after thumbing through the owner's manual, meant low tire pressure, appeared directly under the speedometer. Since I felt no give or take with the Honda and saw no evidence of low tire anything with the Audi, I learned to take their reminders in stride and figured I'd wait until their respective next service calls to respond to them.
    Those service calls have now occurred. And I am extremely glad and relieved to say that their necessary/underlying repairs have been made. Glad/relieved not so much because the repairs/obvious safety issues have been addressed. Rather, glad/relieved that in making those repairs, the dashboard warning lights are no longer illuminating their disdain with the idiot behind the wheel: me, neglecting them.
    No more, after starting either car, will my initial focus be on the dashboard to see if miraculously the warning lights have disappeared and finally stopped their incessant, non-verbal badgering. No more will I be forced to ignore their illumination and attempt to compartmentalize their visual reminders that all is not well under the hood (so to speak). And finally, no more will I have to worry that one day - or night, the other mechanical shoe will drop and I or my wife will be left stranded on the road somewhere waiting for a tow truck to drag us to our car-repair maker.
    And though this dashboard-warning-light-turn-off is really a turn-on, I am still able to keep its effect in perspective. It's not a cure for cancer and neither it is a cure for my "stable" issue as written about multiple times recently ("Please Relief Me" and "Apparently, Not a Stable Genius"). However, as we say in sales: "I'll take a yes;" as they say on the high seas: "Any port in a storm;" and has been said for the last century: "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." For the official record, I am not horsing around in the least when I say how thrilled I am now that every time I start our cars, I see no lights reminding me what an idiot I've been. As a cancer patient, I don't need that kind (or any other kind, quite frankly) of negativity in my life, or in my car either. Eliminating it from my activities of daily living adds a bounce to my step and a joie to my vivre.
    I realize I may be over stating the significance of this momentous occasion, but when cancer takes over your life, it does so emotionally before it does so physically. As such, finding relief is HUGE. Moreover, solving a problem, however insignificant in the scheme of things it appears to be, provides the building blocks of success that, as a cancer patient, help strengthen your foundation as you navigate your daily routine. A routine which is already filled with enough challenges. So yes, I am going to make a mountain out of a molehill. And I am going to fill myself up with as much positivity, nonsensical or otherwise, as possible.
    I need to be pulled forward, not dragged backward.
     
     
     
  17. Like
    Susan Cornett reacted to Tom Galli for a blog entry, Twice A Veteran   
    I’m an armed forces veteran. Also, a late stage diagnosed lung cancer survivor veteran. A smoker, I once had little doubt that smoking caused my lung cancer. Yet almost everyone in my immediate family smoked and none developed the disease. Could the unique hazards of armed forces training and warfare played a role in my disease? 
    Looking back, early in my career were demolition projects involving World War II era structures that were filled with asbestos. On deployment, burn pits predominated and everything was mixed with diesel fuel and burned in cut-down 55 gallon drums. As an engineer soldier, we trained extensively with demolitions and smoke and dust was a common exposure. I also directed fabrication of aluminum armored vehicles that included fumes and vapor from aluminum welding and superfine dust from machining. Lest I forget, there was the omnipresent smoke filled haze that lingered for months after Saddam decided to burn the Kuwait oil fields. I’ve inhaled a lot of stuff during the course of my Army career and maybe that played a role in the development of my lung cancer.
    Fortunately, there are new tools and programs for armed forces veterans that might help avoid a late-stage diagnosis.  The Veterans Administration has two important programs to early detect lung cancer: VA-PALS, a low dose CT screening program for at risk vets and the Gulf War Registry Health Exam for veterans. LUNGevity is adding its weight to support veterans. We’ve just established a Veterans Forum in the Lung Cancer Support Community that is now open as a support and information resource. A low dose CT scan is a good idea for those who served.
    Stay the course.
  18. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from LouT for a blog entry, Taking a page from Tom's book   
    Today I celebrate three years of survival! I am so happy to have found this community of people.  You all make this journey so much better.

  19. Like
    Susan Cornett reacted to KatieB for a blog entry, You are not always your own best advocate   
    Last week I took a local lung cancer patient and long time friend "J" to get his scans. This will be a very abbreviated account of what happened.
    Even though we are only an hour apart, I haven't seen "J" in a couple of years.  He has an incredible story of being dx in his 30s and some amazing heroic efforts when into saving his life.  He's even been in the news and media.  Since that time 10 or more years ago, he's struggled to live and battled a few recurrences.  
    They "think" he had a recurrence at the end of last year.  Several bronchoscopies yielded no detectable mutations and caused several complications for him.  He has lost a significant amount of weight (6'1 and 140 pounds) and he hasn't been able to stop coughing.
    His dr scheduled a PET scan.  Because "J" could no longer drive, he asked me if I could take him to the testing facility.
    I could not believe what I saw.  He was SO thin and his speech as a little slurred.  He looked glassy-eyed. The nurse had a hard time accessing a vein.
    Because he couldn't hold a conversation or drive himself- I borrowed a wheelchair from the testing facility.  I filled out his paperwork- dug into his wallet for his ID and medicare card.  He has been on oxygen and the machine that the company shipped to him was faulty.  When he called them they said they could come in 2 days.  TWO DAYS?  I drove him to a pharmacy that sold oxygen and had it fixed.
    The entire time I kept thinking...what would have happened if I could not have come today?  What would have happened if I wasn't here?  He would have tried to drive himself.  He would have been in serious trouble.  He would have been out of oxygen and maybe in an auto accident.  
    The PET nurse couldn't do his infusion because his blood sugar levels were frighteningly high- even though he said he hadn't eaten in about a week due to no appetite.
    I just felt like things were going sideways.  I asked him to call his oncologist.  He spoke with the nurse.  He asked her if she would order some fluid because he has been confused and weak.  She said no.  "Just drink extra water and mix in some gatorade."  He hung up and looked defeated.  He told me that the nurse said no.  He didn't have pain meds.  He didn't have medication to help with the cachexia, he didn't have medicine to help with his cough...he didn't have a working oxygen machine. Now this nurse was telling him he couldn't have a bag of fluids.
    WHAT?  ANYONE can go to the ER.  "I'm taking you to the ER for fluids!"
    So off we went.  I took him straight to the ER and he didn't argue.
    Long story a bit shorter- he ended up being admitted for some serious issues.  They transferred him from one location to another one downtown. He got his fluids.  The last time I saw him he was eating his lunch in his hospital room.
    He isn't out of the woods- not by a long shot.  But he is a better than when we started.
    Why am I sharing this story? Because "J" is college educated.  He has been in the lung cancer space almost a dozen years.  He understands the lingo and knows how to be an advocate.
    But what happens when  you are dehydrated, confused, malnourished, and in extreme pain?  How can you advocate for yourself?  
    If it's ever possible, please have someone with you- especially when you are feeling bad.  
     You are not always your own best advocate

  20. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from PaulaC for a blog entry, There are days....   
    Most days, the cancer is buried somewhere in my thoughts, my work, my hobbies - not at the surface.  But there are days when it hits me right between the eyes.  Cancer.  How the hell did I get here? Is this really my life?  
    Wondering if anyone else has experienced this.
  21. Like
    Susan Cornett reacted to Tom Galli for a blog entry, Cursin' On a Sunday Afternoon....   
    We are "locked and loaded" for our fifth Transatlantic cruise since I was diagnosed with lung cancer. This Sunday, we depart from Ft. Lauderdale and fifteen leisurely pamper-filled days later, arrive in Southampton, England. Along the voyage, we'll visit Bermuda (a first), the Azores (an other first), Lisbon (been there), Bilbao, Spain (a first), and Le Harve, France (been there). And best of all -- no jet lag! We are serious cruisers and are thrilled to cross the pond in a brand new ship (Celebrity Edge christened in Dec 2018). 
    Once we arrive in Southampton, we'll pick up a rent-a-car and proceed to get lost driving on the wrong side of the road as we explore England's picturesque Cotswalds region. We really do love getting lost in countries where we can almost understand the language! Then, after a week of land touring, we fly back home to usher in our summer.
    Vacations are important for everyone; they are vital for lung cancer survivors.  I find I need about 7 days of state change that removes me from day-to-day life and stress. On the eight day, I float in a mental sea of serenity and on this trip, I do hope for calm seas throughout our voyage.   
    Stay the course...we will!
    Tom
  22. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from KatieB for a blog entry, Taking a page from Tom's book   
    Today I celebrate three years of survival! I am so happy to have found this community of people.  You all make this journey so much better.

  23. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Moname3D for a blog entry, Random thoughts   
    I'm in the middle of my quarterly scan appointments.  While I was waiting for my blood draw yesterday, I noticed a couple that was apparently new to the oncology clinic.  The wife is the patient and, when she was called into the lab, her husband got up to walk with her and she told him she was fine, just going for a blood draw.  I looked at his face and saw fear and I just wanted to give him a hug.  This is the part I hate the most - when we look into our loved ones' eyes and see their fear.  I just want to fix everything and I can't; we have so little control over this part of our lives.  I have no idea why she was there or what her diagnosis is, but I definitely said a prayer for them last night.  
     
  24. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Curt for a blog entry, Taking a page from Tom's book   
    Today I celebrate three years of survival! I am so happy to have found this community of people.  You all make this journey so much better.

  25. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from PaulaC for a blog entry, Taking a page from Tom's book   
    Today I celebrate three years of survival! I am so happy to have found this community of people.  You all make this journey so much better.

  26. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Roz for a blog entry, Taking a page from Tom's book   
    Today I celebrate three years of survival! I am so happy to have found this community of people.  You all make this journey so much better.

  27. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Marianne1 for a blog entry, Taking a page from Tom's book   
    Today I celebrate three years of survival! I am so happy to have found this community of people.  You all make this journey so much better.

  28. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Rower Michelle for a blog entry, Taking a page from Tom's book   
    Today I celebrate three years of survival! I am so happy to have found this community of people.  You all make this journey so much better.

  29. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from BridgetO for a blog entry, Taking a page from Tom's book   
    Today I celebrate three years of survival! I am so happy to have found this community of people.  You all make this journey so much better.

  30. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Tom Galli for a blog entry, Taking a page from Tom's book   
    Today I celebrate three years of survival! I am so happy to have found this community of people.  You all make this journey so much better.

  31. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Roz for a blog entry, There are days....   
    Most days, the cancer is buried somewhere in my thoughts, my work, my hobbies - not at the surface.  But there are days when it hits me right between the eyes.  Cancer.  How the hell did I get here? Is this really my life?  
    Wondering if anyone else has experienced this.
  32. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Judy M. for a blog entry, There are days....   
    Most days, the cancer is buried somewhere in my thoughts, my work, my hobbies - not at the surface.  But there are days when it hits me right between the eyes.  Cancer.  How the hell did I get here? Is this really my life?  
    Wondering if anyone else has experienced this.
  33. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from BridgetO for a blog entry, There are days....   
    Most days, the cancer is buried somewhere in my thoughts, my work, my hobbies - not at the surface.  But there are days when it hits me right between the eyes.  Cancer.  How the hell did I get here? Is this really my life?  
    Wondering if anyone else has experienced this.
  34. Sad
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Tom Galli for a blog entry, There are days....   
    Most days, the cancer is buried somewhere in my thoughts, my work, my hobbies - not at the surface.  But there are days when it hits me right between the eyes.  Cancer.  How the hell did I get here? Is this really my life?  
    Wondering if anyone else has experienced this.
  35. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from PaulaC for a blog entry, Random thoughts   
    I'm in the middle of my quarterly scan appointments.  While I was waiting for my blood draw yesterday, I noticed a couple that was apparently new to the oncology clinic.  The wife is the patient and, when she was called into the lab, her husband got up to walk with her and she told him she was fine, just going for a blood draw.  I looked at his face and saw fear and I just wanted to give him a hug.  This is the part I hate the most - when we look into our loved ones' eyes and see their fear.  I just want to fix everything and I can't; we have so little control over this part of our lives.  I have no idea why she was there or what her diagnosis is, but I definitely said a prayer for them last night.  
     
  36. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Laurel for a blog entry, Random thoughts   
    I'm in the middle of my quarterly scan appointments.  While I was waiting for my blood draw yesterday, I noticed a couple that was apparently new to the oncology clinic.  The wife is the patient and, when she was called into the lab, her husband got up to walk with her and she told him she was fine, just going for a blood draw.  I looked at his face and saw fear and I just wanted to give him a hug.  This is the part I hate the most - when we look into our loved ones' eyes and see their fear.  I just want to fix everything and I can't; we have so little control over this part of our lives.  I have no idea why she was there or what her diagnosis is, but I definitely said a prayer for them last night.  
     
  37. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Leo for a blog entry, Random thoughts   
    I'm in the middle of my quarterly scan appointments.  While I was waiting for my blood draw yesterday, I noticed a couple that was apparently new to the oncology clinic.  The wife is the patient and, when she was called into the lab, her husband got up to walk with her and she told him she was fine, just going for a blood draw.  I looked at his face and saw fear and I just wanted to give him a hug.  This is the part I hate the most - when we look into our loved ones' eyes and see their fear.  I just want to fix everything and I can't; we have so little control over this part of our lives.  I have no idea why she was there or what her diagnosis is, but I definitely said a prayer for them last night.  
     
  38. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Tom Galli for a blog entry, Random thoughts   
    I'm in the middle of my quarterly scan appointments.  While I was waiting for my blood draw yesterday, I noticed a couple that was apparently new to the oncology clinic.  The wife is the patient and, when she was called into the lab, her husband got up to walk with her and she told him she was fine, just going for a blood draw.  I looked at his face and saw fear and I just wanted to give him a hug.  This is the part I hate the most - when we look into our loved ones' eyes and see their fear.  I just want to fix everything and I can't; we have so little control over this part of our lives.  I have no idea why she was there or what her diagnosis is, but I definitely said a prayer for them last night.  
     
  39. Like
    Susan Cornett got a reaction from Judy M. for a blog entry, Random thoughts   
    I'm in the middle of my quarterly scan appointments.  While I was waiting for my blood draw yesterday, I noticed a couple that was apparently new to the oncology clinic.  The wife is the patient and, when she was called into the lab, her husband got up to walk with her and she told him she was fine, just going for a blood draw.  I looked at his face and saw fear and I just wanted to give him a hug.  This is the part I hate the most - when we look into our loved ones' eyes and see their fear.  I just want to fix everything and I can't; we have so little control over this part of our lives.  I have no idea why she was there or what her diagnosis is, but I definitely said a prayer for them last night.  
     
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