Mother @#$%+! Cancer

28 07 2014

I can’t sugarcoat this: as hard as it is to have cancer, it is horrible to be a mother and have cancer.

People always tell me I need to take care of myself, get plenty of rest and pay attention to my body.  Any mother knows, that’s next to impossible.  Especially for my kids. I always feel they need extra attention from me because they have already endured the loss of one parent to cancer. So I need to be present for them, reassure them and encourage them because I cannot leave them to their own thoughts which are sometimes full of fear.  This means, taking the time to mother them at times when I can barely keep my eyes open, or when the pain meds have worn off, or when the steroids rear their ugly head, leaving me hangry.

Hangry pillowIt’s tough.

When I’m in pain or completely exhausted, my patience is thin but I keep it in check…as best I can.

My poor baby girls… they are ages 11 and 13 but they will always be my precious baby girls.  Since their father died 10 years ago,

everything I have done has been for their well-being.  I had a great, well-paying job that I loved and supported our needs financially, I worked out, and I made sure our meals were healthy. I encouraged them to try out for teams and take dance, music and karate lessons.  And I always reminded myself to drop the dishes in the sink or put down the rake and play that impromptu game of catch or have a water fight.

I miss them so much.  I have been down in Texas since June 16th.  We spent a week undergoing testing and evaluation so I could meet with an NHL specialist and the following week, ended up having back surgery to alleviate the pressure of a tumor on my spine.  I saw my girls prior to surgery for a couple of days, then they departed for home with my hubby.  So we have been apart for a month.  Wow. Seems like so much longer.

The good news is, thanks to donations received on our Go Fund Me page, I get to see them AND my hubs in about two weeks!  Yay!  The last time my sweet hubs visited, we realized I would be staying in Texas much longer than anticipated, which translated through the end of summer if not into September.  I told him I needed to see the girls again before the end of summer and I knew the girls needed to see me too.  So he made the arrangements for a five day trip back down to Houston.  Isn’t he wonderful?

To those of you who have donated using our Go Fund Me site, I cannot thank you enough.  Your financial gifts not only help us with bills, broken appliances and other needs, but they are now bringing my family back to me for a very much needed visit. People always tell me how strong I am, but really, I cannot think about my children much or it saddens me too deeply so I try not to. Which is awful…because you want to think about your kids.  One will start middle school in the Fall and the other starts high school and, for the first time in their lives, I am going to miss their first day of school.  I might miss my daughter’s first Homecoming Dance, too.  Again, I try not to think about it and instead, I switch my thoughts to believing I will be there for the next Homecoming.

Anywho, in two weeks I plan to just cuddle my kids and kiss them constantly!  For those five days, I will think about them CONSTANTLY! :)

Go Fund Me Lisa McGill Kindergarten Crush Fund

For My Fellow Chemo Warriors

25 07 2014


Have a Snoop Snoop Snoopy filled day!

23 07 2014


Go Fund Me

21 07 2014

When I could no longer drive,  I had to quit my job. Life, and bills,  continue. Please help if you can and share if you will.

“She’s Staying!”

21 07 2014

Last Friday, I woke from a deep sleep. I had gone to bed feeling slightly chilled from what I guessed was the central air and ceiling fan sending cool air upon me. The sweatshirt at the foot of my bed beckoned me. I thought to myself, “I’ll just take it off if I get too warm”.

Keep in mind, each movement I make brings about some bit of pain or discomfort because of my recent back surgery. I really didn’t want to remove a sweatshirt because of how difficult it would be. As it is, I’m not supposed to bend, twist or pick up anything that weighs 5lbs or more.

My phone alarm woke me at 6am, a reminder to take my medicines. I slept straight through the 8am alarm, which was not good since it was for my extended release and immediate release pain meds. So when I woke at almost 10am, I was in pain. Normally, I have a high pain tolerance. Tumor pain is excruciating and not much can relieve that pain. Surgical pain isn’t near as bad but still quite uncomfortable. But when I say I woke in pain, I woke in PAIN!

At any rate, I had to use the bathroom and my body hated me. As I tried to get out of bed, I knew something was wrong. I felt heavy, as if a gravitational pull was dragging me downward. Sluggish and slow I thought,”crap, what other meds did I miss that would cause this.”

I made it out of bed but I was experiencing much difficulty walking. My legs were heavy and my arms hurt since I was relying on them to drag my weak body.

When I was able to leave the room, I grabbed my thermometer and headed to the living room but I was so weak, Jenny met me halfway and had me sit so she could push my using my walker. After some coffee and cereal and a little cool down, I thought I’d be fine. But my temperature readings were telling me that a trip to the E.R. was inevitable.

Jenny and I packed a few essentials and made the trip to Houston…back to MD Anderson from where I had just been discharged four days prior.

I had hoped this was a chemo-related temperature spike. I knew my counts were low so I was optimistic I would be hydrated, watched and sent home. Several hours later, the nurse said the doctor was admitting me. Half-joking, I said,” I’m not staying!” “I want to speak to the doctor”, “I’m going home”.

Apparently, they thought I was serious. Lol…

The doctor came in and explained that I had an infection possibly caused by my surgical drain that required IV antibiotics which I cannot get at home. He was quite serious in saying how dire my situation would be if I left. I’m not a moron, of course I wouldn’t go home. Jeez, I just wanted to be out of the hospital, at Jenny’s comfy house, spending time with her, making smoothies, having coffee, enjoying girl talk, being with her wonderful doggies…not in the hospital…again.

As soon as I told the doc I planned to stay, he walked to the door of my room and yelled, “She’s staying!” ROFLOL!

Jenny and I thought that was so funny…they really thought I was leaving. Mind you, I was feeling like crap so what I thought was me being funny, insisting on going home, must have been lost in the translation. Lol

At any rate, I spent the weekend here at MDA and I’m hoping to leave Tuesday. By then, I should be able to insist upon it and be healthy enough to skedaddle. Pray on, my Warrior Peeps.

18 Days in the Clinker

16 07 2014

20140712_201926 Monday evening, I busted out of the clinker. LOL 18 days in the slammer was enough! Hospital life can be tough, akin to being in prison I imagine, where everything is scheduled, there is no freedom and you cannot escape.  Since this wasn’t been my first incarceration, nor my longest, it really wasn’t that bad.

MD Anderson is a world-class, top-notch facility staffed by incredible people who are carefully screened, not only for skill but compassion.  The doctors, nurses, transporters and even food service workers are incredibly sweet and polite.  It is wonderful to have care such as this.  After 18 days, however, I was ready to bust out! ;)

And it is so good to be back at my friend’s Jenny and Randy’s house, where I can regroup and relax after chemo.

Many folks have had questions as to a timeline of activities.  Originally, Jenny and I were at MD Anderson on June 26th for a few appointments of mine.  I had fallen at her house while attempting to stand the day before, I could feel that my body was weakening. I suspected the tumor in my T10 was growing, especially since radiation had been abruptly stopped and my steroids, which help to reduce swelling of tumors, had run out.  My body just crumpled beneath me.  Not a good sign.

On the 26th, we had seen my pulmonologist who had positive news about my lungs.  Seemingly, they had improved in the last few months.  She also believes that they can continue to improve, which is awesome news, because 1) she is the first doctor to say it’s possible and 2) because I need a Stem Cell Transplant and to go through the procedure, I need healthier lungs than what I have now, or risk damaging them more, which could go very badly.

My next appointment was with my oncologist in the Lymphoma Clinic.  Upon reporting the fall at Jenny’s house, and the weakening of my body, I knew they would admit me to the hospital, and that was, indeed, the plan.  I was relieved.  I knew I needed help.

The wait for a room was very, very long. Eventually, we were sent to a Family Waiting Room where I could be more comfortable and rest in a reclining chair with a warm blankie.  All I could do was sleep, another sign my body was heading downhill.

Hours passed, I slept and Jenny spent her time talking with others just outside of the Quiet Room.  After some time, I had to  use the bathroom.  Upon attempting to stand with assistance, my legs gave out from under me and my body, and, for the second time in two days, crumpled to the floor.  I thought for sure my right ankle or knee had broken as I heard a crunching sound on the way down.  Fortunately, the two falls only caused a sprain and it looks much worse than it is.  The picture below was taken yesterday.  Today, the swelling has reduced considerably.








Surgery on my spine took place a couple of days later on Saturday, June 28th. In the meantime, the pain from the tumor became more and more excruciating.  I was nervous about the surgery but being in the best place in the nation put my mind at ease, especially after meeting and researching the surgeon, Dr. Tatsui.  The first time I met him, I was awaiting a scan in another part of the hospital but he tracked me down so he could meet me and explain exactly what the surgery would involve. He informed me that the purpose of the surgery was to relieve pressure on the spine and NOT to remove tumor.  The 7 hour surgery was very successful.  Because my spine was sandwiched by tumor, Dr. Tatsui had no choice but to remove tumor.  This only occurs in 10% of these types of surgeries.  Muscles were shifted to overlap and protect my spine, thanks to some talented plastic surgeons.  Now, the pain I experience is more discomfort and seriously, compared to the tumor pain, is a breeze!

I spent several days after surgery on the Surgical Rehab floor in an ICU-like setting where plenty of nurses were available to fewer  patients.  There, on this floor, I had both Occupational and Physical Therapy, to help build strength and to help my re-learn how to do things like stand and get into bed without hurting my back which, for a bit, I cannot bend, twist, etc.

After several days, my good behavior earned me an escape from Surgical Rehab floor to the Lymphoma Floor.  Yes, there is an entire floor dedicated to just Lymphoma patients and that’s how MD Anderson is organized.  If you ever have some time, check out the MD Anderson website.  They offer so Services & Amenities to patients from these organizational things to free wigs in their Beauty & Barber Shop (yes, there’s  a salon! LOL), an Integrative Medicine Center to help patients and caregivers learn peace and healing, and so much more.

Tuesday, July 8th chemotherapy began to be administered to me in my posh, 15th floor room outfitted with a pull-out sofa, chairs, desk, armoire.  These newly remodeled rooms are beautiful and functional with easy to maneuver laminate floors with plenty of space to navigate with a walker and an IV pole.

After three days of a chemotherapy called Cytoxin, I moved onto a few days of Rituxan.  I was very happy to receive the Rituxan, because Peeps, if you recall, this is the treatment that was questioned regarding the damage to my lungs.  MD Anderson has determined, once and for all, that it did not.  Rituxan is a very powerful chemo medicine so I was happy to finally get the dosages needed to help blast away tumor.

The first bag of Rituxan left me in rough shape. Coughing, mucus, and exhaustion took over my body but worse than that, an extremely high heart rate of 140 bpm and a very low blood pressure.  Very low.  I was given some time to recuperate from the first bag of Rituxan, my vitals returned to somewhat normal, then the second bag was administered.

A few days of observation, and good toleration of the chemotherapies and finally, after 18 days, I was finally discharged.  I could not be happier.  Jenny and Randy have opened their home to me, Jenny is an excellent caregiver, their home is beautiful, peaceful and comfortable.  The expectation is to stay through my next chemo treatment in a few weeks and go from there.

Until then, I so very appreciate your prayers and support.  It means so much to me and, although, I may not be able to respond to everyone, I read each comment and keep them to review when I need a boost.

Fred and the girls are returning to Houston in a few weeks and I am so excited!  I miss my little family…

As always, we can use help financially to get us through.  Any assistance helps so much and goes so far.  If you feel inclined to help, here is the link to use.  Go Fund Me for Lisa Lafferty McGill  If you can, please feel free to share the link on your social media networks. Much love to all of you, my prayers go out to you as well.  xoxo

Go Fund Me for Lisa Lafferty McGill

Kindergarten Crush

Finish Strong

10 07 2014

3rd rainbow since I’ve been here

It’s been a rocky ride here in Texas and, looking back, that makes perfect sense. However, when you’re in the thick of things, it is a mind-muddling confusing mess that leaves you wondering how to feel.

Coming to MD Anderson is such an incredible blessing.  The nation’s, and some of the world’s, leading cancer docs are here.  The oncologist I was assigned to in my group has been here for 33 years!  It’s the best care available to me and I am honored to be a part of it.

Being a new patient, no one knows your story very well.  We have learned that as you are assigned to doctors, they read your case as they can.  Sometimes, the important details are misread in the process.  One of the details of my case, the original tumor in my T4 spinal region was nearly gone, we were told, before we came to Texas.  Somewhere along the line, that was misinterpreted and we were told it was growing, which was awful news.  Thankfully, the truth is, it is NOT!  That sucker is nearly gone, not to worry about, hasta la vista, buh bye, gone!  Whew!


Jenny & I sneak outside for fresh air daily. This is a view of “Hospital City”.

Another area of concern has been my lungs.  If you’ve followed along with this blog or my Facebook page, Kindergarten Crush, you’re aware that I have lung damage, previously determined as being caused by radiation or one of the important chemo drugs I need to take, called Rituxan.  The docs here at Anderson say, that lung damage from Rituxan is extremely rare and in no way, shape or form do they believe my problems are caused by it.  Extremely good news because this adds another bullet in my suit of chemo armor, possible chemo meds I can take.

My case was presented to the group of docs working on me and all agreed that a Stem Cell Transplant is needed.  When asked about the risk to my lungs, one of my docs, Dr. Wong, seemed to be optimistic about it, saying they can adjust medications enough that he doesn’t feel it would cause any more damage.  In the meantime, I will probably go through some Pulmonary Rehab to improve my lungs a bit.


24th Floor Family Room

The back surgery I had was a temporary fix.  It was meant to relieve pressure on my spine. Rarely, does a surgeon cut out any tumor, 1 in 10 patients.  Because the tumor was sandwiched around my spine, my surgeon did remove tumor.  I believe that will give the chemo a straightforward path.

Dr. Wong had told us about another woman with a similar case to mine, spinal tumors, no lung issue though.  She is now in remission thanks to a stem cell transplant.  Good stuff, good stuff.

I needed this positivity.  Chemo began yesterday, Rituxan will now be added into the mix and I may be out of here Saturday, we shall see!  Feeling that ol’ warrior spirit again :) Love my Peeps!


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