Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Detour To Planet Cancer

This little blog used to be very important to me. I'd wake up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday filled with ideas I wanted to write about. It was my mission, my little corner of the universe where I could express myself and hopefully, in the process, expose my readers to people who were working to make the world a better place. Maybe even inspire them and myself.

Then everything stopped. I'll always remember July 27th, 2010. It's marked on my soul like the births of my children, my wedding, and the day my brother died. I think of it as my cancer sandwich day.

That morning (after two years of hard work) I turned over a completed manuscript to my literary agent. I was so proud of the work my husband and I had done collaborating on a unique vampire book. It was going to be a best-seller. It still could be!

At 11am my doctor told me I had stage 3A breast cancer. I thought I was handling the news like a pro then she said the words chemotherapy and mastectomy and large tumor and radiation. Clearly, Dr. Spotts and her nurse knew how these conversations went because before my first tear fell a box of tissue was placed in my lap. After, my husband I went to a coffee shop and stared at each other until I could look at him without crying. He just kept repeating, "We're going to get through this."

Several weeks prior, we'd bought tickets to a Billy Jonas concert. He was coming to Las Vegas for the first time. I was so excited. The concert was as much for my youngest son as it was for me. If you're 6 years old, Billy Jonas is the coolest of the cool. Now I didn't want to go. I wanted to curl up in a ball in the center of my bed and scream. I went anyway. It was the best thing I could have done for myself and my family. I sat on the second row, directly below the band and wept during one of the songs - an unusual reaction to What Kind of Cat Are You? And when I introduced myself to Billy and his band mates, Ashley Jo Farmer and Sherman Hoover, I'm sure they thought I was some sort of crazy stalker. Let's just say I was a little off-kilter that night.

So, cancer sandwich - God knew what he was doing when he cushioned the most devastating news of my life with two fluffy-and-soft-as-white-bread, wonderful events.

Fast forward slightly through surgeries and four months of Chemotherapy. I spent them, alternately, on my couch and in my bed, watching NetFlix and crocheting hats for other baldies like me. I read books, mostly books about cancer, until my brain burned from too much information about miracle cures, side effects, and breast cancer recurrence rates. All my favorite foods tasted like a mouthful of copper pennies. Everything I wanted to eat was white - popcorn, ice cream, puddings, oatmeal, soups and gravy.

My doctor and the staff of Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada celebrated my last chemo session in December by presenting me with a pink crown and balloons. I cried about that, too. Those were tears of joy.

More surgery to remove my portacath and the lump in my breast. Then more surgery because the lumpectomy was not enough. I choose to have reconstruction done at the same time as the mastectomy...there will be more surgeries to complete the process. This is a long process. I'm telling you this because I know there is a woman out there who needs to talk to someone who has been there...contact me. I'll listen.

I have to thank my family and friends. My husband, Todd, was there with me at every appointment, every hospital visit. He held me and felt all my pain. He's is so very strong and loving beyond measure. My mother and father in law flew out from Georgia every three weeks to be with me on the days I had chemotherapy. My parents (all 4 of them) called me constantly. I can't wait to see them in September. My friends supported me with meals for my family when I was too weak to do anything but say thank you. They drove my children to school and brought me gifts. They flew across the country to be with me after surgery. I am truly blessed.

My newest venture is radiation therapy. I'm two weeks into a six week course - five days a week. My radiation oncologist and her tech are my new best friends. Hi John!

I'm close to the end of my stay on Planet Cancer. It's been an interesting trip with memories and insight I'd never have gained any other way...but, I'm not going back there again. Once was enough and I pray someday no one ever has to go...maybe, as a species, we'll lose the map and forget how to get there.

Thanks to the constant support of my family and friends, I'm feeling much better, more like myself. Actually, I feel like a better version of myself. For me, cancer was a cleansing process. It stripped away everything superficial and useless. It left me with a sturdy foundation upon which to rebuild my post-cancer self.

I like her. She has salt and pepper hair instead of blonde. Of course, I like coloring my hair so who knows what it will be in a year! When I see her in the mirror she has depth in her expressions. Her smile is huge and welcoming. Her heart is open. She is strong willed, opinionated, and not afraid of anything. She's had her feet to the fire long enough to scorch her soles and she's still running.

So that's where I've been for the last year. Now it's time to get back to this little blog that means so much to me. If you're reading, send your ideas. Who do you know that's making the world around them a better place? Who's spreading love? Who's a bright light in their community? Tell me about them and we'll share it here...together. I've missed you.

12 comments:

Fin said...

Oh Lisa I'm sorry you had to go through all that, but so glad that you are almost back to planet earth where you belong.

You are such a bright light and I'm happy to see it shine on the blogosphere again!

Meg

Lisa McGlaun said...

Meg!

It's great to hear from you. How have you been? Thanks. It is GOOD to almost be finished with treatment and back to my life.

Thanks for saying hi. It means the world to me.

Lisa

Rekaya Gibson said...

I did not know what to expect when I decided to read your post today. It hit tear ducks longing to escape and picked at heart strings with an unpublished song. I am grateful that I am one of many on your journey called life.
Thank you for sharing private moments about your detour to planet cancer. I wish you continued happiness, good health, and writing success. God Bless You!

Ray Finkel said...

Absolutely beautiful Lisa, absolutely beautiful!

Teresa said...

Lisa,
Thank you for sharing your journey, your strength emanates through your words. The love that surrounds you in life is apparent with a loving husband and beautiful children. You will conquer this and I know you will touch not just one person but many through your support.
I'm glad you're back, we've missed you.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Rekaya,

You are one of my favorite people in the world. I wish you still lived near me but I'm glad that for a while I saw you every Monday evening.

Best wishes in everything you do!

Love,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Ray,

You've been with me all the way. Relay for Life was so special, even with all the mind-blowing wind!I want to write about that. If you have any pictures from that night please send them to me and I'll include them in the post. Still have Lucy's hat..but she certainly doesn't need it right now!

Love to you and Deb,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Teresa,

My wish is to be at every Monday meeting, like I used to do. I haven't made that happen yet but I will.

I miss all of you and my friendships in HWG. You're all very special to me.

Hugs,
Lisa

Donald Riggio said...

Though I don't know you real well, I do know know you as a woman of great strength and fortitude. I've never seen you without a smile on your face. Its good to have you back with the writer's group. Your life experiences will show through the talent of your writing since your emotions have run the gamut of great depth and height. Continued good luck to you.

Donald

Lisa McGlaun said...

Donald,

Thanks so much for telling me that. There are many times when I don't have a smile...unfortunately for my husband, he's the one who sees my down days more than others. Gotta love him for putting up with me!

See you soon,
Lisa

Fin said...

Glad to hear you are almost done and getting back to normal life.

I'm good. I published Fin's book through Amazon. You can collect a free autographed copy if you'd like.

Blog is coming along well. Planning my second cat related book next. Hope your kitties are well too.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Meg,

That's great news about the book. Yes, I'd love a copy. How do I get that? Is there a link?

Lisa