Friday, February 3, 2017

A life lost to cancer...

Mom has been doing well this winter and we had a great holiday together. We went to my cousin Heather's grandson's birthday party (Jan. 21) and mom got her fill of baby-holding thanks to cousin Travis who brought both of his boys - Rayland and baby Able! Mom was able to cuddle Abel as long as possible. He was a great baby the entire time and didn't fuss much. The birthday boy, Ryder, had some partying to do and it was hard to keep him on your lap for even .02 seconds. It was fun to see Ryder having so much fun and mom enjoyed the afternoon. We were only there for about two hours and were exhausted after that so I don't know how these people keep up with all of these little ones.

Lindsay Thul
I feel blessed that mom is here and doing well, especially after this week.

This week, my best friend Diane lost her daughter Lindsay to breast cancer after a brief 9 month battle. Lindsay was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) on April 18, 2016 and she passed early Wednesday morning, Feb. 1, 2017. She was only 29.

Lindsay fought hard, but as big as her fight was, her body couldn't handle this rapid, form of breast cancer.

I had not heard of IBC until Lindsay. It was a shock when she was diagnosed, because Diane's family (nor Lindsay's fathers side) did not have a history of the disease.

Last year at about this time, Diane was concerned about Lindsay's health because she had a swollen lymph node in her armpit/right breast area and it was painful. They (doctors) thought it was infected, and there were some other theories, so Lindsay went through some antibiotics and other courses of treatment. To me, that time was wasted, as we know now the cancer was invading her body. The diagnosis in April was too late.

Because Lindsay is a fighter, she went through numerous chemo "cocktails," radiation, surgery (mastectomy), etc etc. Slowly, it was determined that radiation was not helping as the cancer was spreading too fast, and then in January, it was decided to stop doing chemo as that was not working either. I don't know how Diane kept it together in these last couple of months, as she moved in with Lindsay to care for her, but she did it with grace and strength. Diane slept by her daughter's side every night, and then held Lindsay as she took her last breaths the other day.

It is a sad story to share, but worth sharing because Lindsay was adamant about sharing information and awareness about IBC so that others could be informed. Hopefully it will save a life.

A late diagnosis is too late.

Lindsay's Journey

Lindsay's IBC Facebook Group

The IBC Network Foundation

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dr. check-in and the holidays!

Mom and Great (great great) niece Emma.
Mom had her three month visit with Dr. Porubcin on Tuesday and her blood counts were stellar! Her CA125 dropped down to 5 - I can't remember when it has been that low before. Mom is feeling good and not having any other symptoms. Her arthritis is bothering her (as it does in the cold weather) and she is going to get her hip checked out as she has not had a scan in that area for awhile. Nothing of a large concern. We had a great Thanksgiving holiday - it was our turn to host this year - and there were plenty of little ones to go around so mom had her fill of snuggles.

We are counting our blessings - as good as a year as it has been for mom, it has not been a good year for others. One of my best friends, Diane's, daughter (Lindsay) was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of breast cancer (inflammatory breast cancer) in March of this year. It has been heartbreaking to watch all of the measures that Lindsay has been going through in these few short months: chemo, surgery, radiation, etc. Her outlook is dismal, but Lindsay's attitude doesn't fade.   You can read about Lindsay's journey on her GoFundMe site.

These are the times when we are thankful for the simple things.... like just getting up in the morning and staying healthy. For me, it is being able to run a few miles without any real effort. We are blessed!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Class reunion - 60 years!

Loretta and mom
Mom and I went to her class reunion on Saturday - the Seneca High School Class of 1956 celebrated 60 years this year! Mom's class was not that large and there were many other classes in attendance (from the 40's through the 70's). Aunt Rosemary and Aunt Carol's class reunions were there too ... so everyone that came by the table knew the "McCann" girls!

It was nice to put names with faces as mom talks about her classmates from time to time. Good ole Jerry Barla was there! He told mom a couple of months ago that she had "better be at the reunion" since she was feeling good this summer and been off of chemo for awhile, so of course mom keeps her promises.

Loretta, Jerry and mom
It was nice to have everyone ask her how she has been feeling - they all know she has been battling cancer for the last few years and it is nice that everyone is still close and keep tabs on each other. That is what being from a small farm town is all about - lifelong friendships!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wrapping Up Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

The QC Half Marathon was last weekend and I ended up finishing the race at about 2:18. Not my best, but it was an extremely warm and humid morning. After draining my water bottle around mile 6 I decided that I needed to take it easy.

More importantly, thanks to everyone's help I was able to raise $350 for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Illinois Chapter and Team Teal.

The entire team raised over $17,000 which I think is pretty incredible. I'm already looking forward to next year and will run the Chicago Half with the rest of Team Teal.

Side note: On September 15, we celebrated mom's 78th birthday by going out for dinner and dessert. She is feeling well and has been in great spirits this summer.

In a couple of weeks, October 8, she has a high school class reunion that she is looking forward to attending in Ottawa. I'm going to tag along as well! I know everyone will be happy to see her and her sisters will be there as well (their class reunions are on the same day, apparently when you get up into your 60 year reunions the classes start to do it together) and of course we will go to church in Ransom on Sunday. It's the simple things that make it fun and I'm looking forward to the weekend as well.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Teal toes ON for Ovarian Cancer Awareness month

The month of September is special to me for two reasons: My mom's birthday is this month and it is also Ovarian Cancer Awareness month

My mom, Barbara, has been battling Ovarian Cancer for 7 years and it has been a battle... but she is a strong girl and she is a constant source of hope and inspiration to me. 

Every year I paint my toes teal on honor of mom and Ovarian Cancer Awareness month- so if you are so inclined - get your teal toes on for September!  

One more reason this month is special - I have joined the Illinois Team Teal and am running the Quad Cities Half Marathon on September 25 to raise money for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) 

The rest of my Illinois Team Teal teammates are running the Chicago Half Marathon that same day - but as I already committed to the QCM they said it was ok to do the same thing here in the Quad Cities and build awareness in my immediate community. 

I've committed to raising $500 for the NOCC this month and I hope that I can get it there. Every bit helps. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Summer time

We have been having a great summer - although I have been busy at work and it seems like mom has been busy at church with funeral luncheons - and I can't believe it is almost the end of August. Hopefully fall is around the corner. It has been a hot and humid summer in the midwest.

Mom is feeling good and in good health. Her weight (or lack of weight) is an issue but she definitely has an appetite so maybe she will just stay where she is and not lose any more weight. Her hair isn't growing back very fast - it has been going a lot slower this time around. It may not grow in all the way unfortunately.

My cousin Dennis and his family came to Geneseo for a visit a few weeks ago and it was good to see him and his wife Peggy and their son Zach. Mom really enjoyed the afternoon and getting caught up on life and Zach's activities. The last time I saw Zach I was able to pick him up! Now he can pick me up!

Mom is planning on a class reunion in October (Seneca High School) and I'm going to go as well. We haven't talked about any other traveling yet but I would like to do another visit to Tucson for one of Uncle Bernie's pork chops on the grill with a side of jalapeƱo peppers.

Dennis and me.

Dennis, Peggy and Zachary.

Dennis and mom.

An Aunt sandwich! Mom, Dennis and Aunt Rosemary!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Doctor check-in and cataract surgery!

Throwback photo circa 1975-ish
As you can see by the title of this post, life is pretty exciting after chemo!

Mom had cataract surgery on her right eye yesterday. The bad cataract was removed and an implant was put in its place. So that makes two (she had the left eye done last year) close-to-new eyeballs to read with. This morning she said her crossword puzzle was easier to read and that was less than 24 hours since the surgery! At her follow-up this morning Dr. Wagle said all looked good.

After the eye appointment we went to her 3 month follow up with Dr. Porubcin. All of her numbers are good AND her CA125 is down to 4 points. Hallelujah! That low number made Dr. P. very happy and he was giggly - although he was concerned that he hadn't heard mom cough during the visit. I put Dr. P's mind at ease and told him that mom was coughing at Dr. Wagle's office because they had the thermostat set to about 50 degrees (it was freezing in there) so all is good.

Mom is now taking some time to get her household to-do list taken care of. The crew started on her new roof yesterday and that will take about three days. She is also going to purchase new windows for the south side of the condo.

Just for fun - a throwback photo from about 1974 or 1975. By the look on my face, I am not sure what my problem was at that particular moment... but I'm sure it was inconsequential. Looks like I also refused to put on a nice shirt and opted for a sweatshirt instead. Sometimes I just want to travel back in time and slap myself! Despite my attitude mom is still smiling in the photo - which is a great example of her demeanor - always smiling no matter what the circumstances. That attitude is why she made it through 5 rounds of chemo and survived her cancer - straight up positivity!