Cancer as Rebirth

Started by Leida, May 31, 2015
9 replies for this topic
Leida

Member
558 Posts
Posted on
May 31, 2015
Two. This month marks my second anniversary of living with stage 4 lung cancer. Two years ago at this time, lung cancer burst into my life, kicking and screaming, demanding all of our attention and making our family completely alter our lives to accommodate it.
 
Those first few weeks were a fog. Just make it through this day, this hour, this minute. As the months went on, we gradually grew accustomed to its presence and learned how to live with this new creature in our midst. I learned to take those tentative first steps — to get my legs under me again. A stumble, a trip, then finding the courage to pull myself back up and try again. Trying to find a voice, to speak this new reality. Find words to communicate and describe this new landscape. I learned to grow into this new identity, to develop my new sense of self.
 
Two years ago today I got that devastating phone call that confirmed it. No more hoping that my severely impaired breathing was due to an unusual strain of pneumonia or some bizarre infection. The biopsy confirmed it: lung cancer.
 
Two years ago today all I could focus on was getting oxygen into my body.
 
Today, I spent the day at the building we are transforming into our dream business, where I prepped the rewards packages for the people who donated to our fundraiser. Tonight I spent the evening at my son's school ice cream social, watching the kids run around the playground with their friends, negotiating with them how many ice creams they could get and enjoying the sun and breeze.
 
Two years ago I ate dinner lying on the couch, too weak to sit at the table with the family.
 
I guess you could say that the old me died on that fateful spring day in 2013 when I got the devastating news. The person who I was prior to that point is gone now. The person who could talk casually about growing to old age. The person who could commit to future events without a voice in the back of her head whispering, "if I'm still here then."
 
But it is not all bad. A new person has arisen from the ashes. A person who is not afraid to take chances, be bold or speak up. Over the past two years I have found a new voice. I have found my footing, taken my first steps and learned to walk again. Among other things, I have become a person who can rattle off the names of half a dozen tyrosine kinase inhibitors currently in clinical trials and a person who drools over news from ASCO. I'm someone who thinks frequently about end of life, who walks alongside sickness and who knows a shocking number of people in various stages of dying. I'm someone who no longer feels afraid of talking about these taboo subjects. And someone who understands the painful, beautiful brevity of our time here on Earth.

Two years living with metastatic lung cancer, and today I am a billion times healthier than I was when they (finally) figured out what was wrong. Two years and still kickin'. Who woulda thunk it?
 
 
Tori Tomalia is many things: a mom, a wife, a theatre artist, a mediocre cook, a Buffy fan, a stinky cheese aficionado. She is also, unfortunately, a repeat visitor to Cancerland. Stay tuned for her continued adventures.
     Facebook: facebook.com/lungcancerblogger
     Twitter: twitter.com/lil_lytnin
     Blog: "A Lil Lytnin' Strikes Lung Cancer" lil-lytnin.blogspot.com
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Tori Tomalia

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 31, 2015
Two. This month marks my second anniversary of living with stage 4 lung cancer. Two years ago at this time, lung cancer burst into my life, kicking and screaming, demanding all of our attention and making our family completely alter our lives to accommodate it.
 
Those first few weeks were a fog. Just make it through this day, this hour, this minute. As the months went on, we gradually grew accustomed to its presence and learned how to live with this new creature in our midst. I learned to take those tentative first steps — to get my legs under me again. A stumble, a trip, then finding the courage to pull myself back up and try again. Trying to find a voice, to speak this new reality. Find words to communicate and describe this new landscape. I learned to grow into this new identity, to develop my new sense of self.
 
Two years ago today I got that devastating phone call that confirmed it. No more hoping that my severely impaired breathing was due to an unusual strain of pneumonia or some bizarre infection. The biopsy confirmed it: lung cancer.
 
Two years ago today all I could focus on was getting oxygen into my body.
 
Today, I spent the day at the building we are transforming into our dream business, where I prepped the rewards packages for the people who donated to our fundraiser. Tonight I spent the evening at my son's school ice cream social, watching the kids run around the playground with their friends, negotiating with them how many ice creams they could get and enjoying the sun and breeze.
 
Two years ago I ate dinner lying on the couch, too weak to sit at the table with the family.
 
I guess you could say that the old me died on that fateful spring day in 2013 when I got the devastating news. The person who I was prior to that point is gone now. The person who could talk casually about growing to old age. The person who could commit to future events without a voice in the back of her head whispering, "if I'm still here then."
 
But it is not all bad. A new person has arisen from the ashes. A person who is not afraid to take chances, be bold or speak up. Over the past two years I have found a new voice. I have found my footing, taken my first steps and learned to walk again. Among other things, I have become a person who can rattle off the names of half a dozen tyrosine kinase inhibitors currently in clinical trials and a person who drools over news from ASCO. I'm someone who thinks frequently about end of life, who walks alongside sickness and who knows a shocking number of people in various stages of dying. I'm someone who no longer feels afraid of talking about these taboo subjects. And someone who understands the painful, beautiful brevity of our time here on Earth.

Two years living with metastatic lung cancer, and today I am a billion times healthier than I was when they (finally) figured out what was wrong. Two years and still kickin'. Who woulda thunk it?
 
 
Tori Tomalia is many things: a mom, a wife, a theatre artist, a mediocre cook, a Buffy fan, a stinky cheese aficionado. She is also, unfortunately, a repeat visitor to Cancerland. Stay tuned for her continued adventures.
     Facebook: facebook.com/lungcancerblogger
     Twitter: twitter.com/lil_lytnin
     Blog: "A Lil Lytnin' Strikes Lung Cancer" lil-lytnin.blogspot.com
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scifiknitter

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 31, 2015
You nail it here yet again, Tori. I may wish that I didn't have stage 4 NSCLC, but I would not wish to go back to being the person I was before my diagnosis, or the life I was living a year ago. Funny that. A few days ago a friend told me that he could see that I'm living in the present, and I think that's one of the highest compliments I have every received. If there is anything I want to do with the rest of my life, it's to help others do the same. You don't have to have cancer to live now.
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suki

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 01, 2015
Hi Tori, Would I go back? Well sure I would. I'd like to be me just having a soy latte and chunking along to what I thought was going to be a full giving back to the world life. Well, I AM better at seeing people, at listening, at paying attention. I have a much clearer sense of the scope of things. I thought I knew that life was not a bubble. How could you be at Eastern and not know that? But. I didn't. I didn't. So, I am grateful for that and for the new treatments coming out! I am grateful for that. I am also grateful to know you. Mary Koral
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rcw_42

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 13, 2015
Hi Tori, Happy Anniversary! Everything to me is still a fog, what a roller coaster ride. August, 2005; NSCLC staged T4,N0,M0, IIIB - Right Apex Lobectomy. May, 2005; Robotic LRP, Pathology staged t3a,N0,M0; Gleason 7(3+4). Lots of changes in treatments in those 10 years. Happy and very grateful to still be here! There is hope! God Bless, Bob
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Jbarbatti

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 15, 2015
Blessings Tori! Thanks for sharing and keep on living! Your words are so true. My husband is living fully with pancreatic cancer 3+ years after his diagnosis. While we wouldn't have wished this journey for us we have been so blessed and so changed for the better. God bless you and all cancer thrivers!! Joyce
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Tori Tomalia

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 16, 2015
So true. Some people come to this realization on their own, but many seem to need the "push" of a life-changing event to look a little deeper. Thanks for your comment, and best of luck on your treatment! Tori
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Tori Tomalia

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 16, 2015
Mary, I am so grateful to know you, too! The thing I miss most is the blissful ignorance, the ability to assume that I will live a long and healthy life. But, in truth, no one is promised that. Some of us just have that reality thrust in our faces. Tori
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Tori Tomalia

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 16, 2015
Hi Bob! A ten year survivor, that is music to my ears! Thank you for the well wishes, and may you have many, many more years of health! Tori
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Tori Tomalia

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 16, 2015
Joyce, that is wonderful to hear that your husband is doing so well! May he continue to live well, and may you two enjoy many more years of happiness together. Tori
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pharmasmita

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
September 15, 2017
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