I am so ashamed of myself for not keeping my blog updated as I had promised but to be honest the past 6 or 7 weeks have just been a blur to me. I have been so busy and it seems like January just flew right on by me. Now here it is February and this month is almost gone! Now I have to catch you all up on everything that has been going on in my life and it will seem like I am rambling and jumping all over the place, but I have been very occupied. Everything that I have had going on has been crazy and one thing after the other so that is why I have not kept up with this blog. I promise not to let this happen again and to at least write weekly from here on out. (oh the only reason I am about to tell you all of what's happened is because as you will see - Fr Seelos has been connected to everything in some way, constantly reminding me of who he is and where he is)
Let me go back to the last time I wrote which was 12/28.
On 12/30 I went through my 3rd treatment, as usual no real problems that I can think off now. Fatigue seems to start setting in a bit stronger now and sometimes I just cant hold my eyes open, but other than that the treatment went well. On NYE 12/31 I saw a posting on Face Book from my friend Fred Fath. His son had been in an accident and was in ICU with a critical, life threatening brain injury. Immediately my heart broke for Fred and his ex-wife Colleen. Even though I had never met his son Austin, only 15 years old, I had grown up with Fred and we had run into each other quite ofthen through the years. Colleen, my sister and I had gone to the same high school. To read Fred's post was just horrible. I couldn't imagine what they were going through. I immediately began saying prayers to Fr. Seelos and at that time just prayed that he would be ok and that they would not lose their child. I posted to FB for my friends to pray as well, because I know how string prayer in numbers can be and I knew they were going to need all the prayers they could get just to get through the night. Here it was NYE, the start of a brand new year, parties, celebrations and they were in a hospital not knowing if their child would live or die. My own son is 13 and it just really affected me. As more and more people began to post the story began to unfold as to the events of the accident. Austin had fallen off of a moving car driven by a friend. Earlier in the night Austin had drawn angels wings on another friends back - big beautiful angels wings. This boy and Austin jumped up on the back of the car and the boy with the wings began to fall off, grabbing Austin and pulling Austin off the car. Austin hit the ground head first, his friend was uninjured. (ironic isn't it)
To make a very long story short as most of you know it already, Austin was in ICU for I believe 6 weeks. They removed a portion of his skull during the first few days due to the swelling in his brain. The doctors had no way of knowing what kind of brain damage he would have, but from postings from Fred things did not look all that promising. All we could do was pray constantly and be there for them as much as we could. I was consumed by this childs recovery and prayed for him more than I prayed for myself. My Mom was praying for him, all my friends were praying for him. People who had no idea who he was or what happened would message me on FB asking about him. Everyone who was a friend of mine on FB knew how much it meant to me that prayers be said for Austin. I was able to touch base with Fred and Colleen quite often and I had mentioned to both of them how I felt about Fr Seelos and how I knew praying to him was what we needed to do. There was a special mass coming up in just a day or two at the church where the Shrine of Fr Seelos is and I was hoping that Collen or Fred could possibly make it. Colleen really wanted to but unfortuantely Austin had taken another turn for the worse and could not leave the hospital. I told her that I would be going and not to worry, special prayers would be said for him.
January 9th I was able to attend the special healing mass in honor of Fr Seelos' Birthday. It was a horrible day to be out driving, but we were all going, me, Wayne, the kids, Mom and my friend Merri Lee who is also going through cancer and recieving chemo. Merri Lee and her sisters met us at the church and we were able to sit together. It was an incredible site to see so many people gathered there. the church was packed, standing room only. Those who were sick were able to stand in one of several lines to be prayed upon and ask for healing. I chose the line in the back sanctuary where the shrine is located. While I waited in line, Mom and Wayne and the kids went and found seats in the church. As I got in line there was probably about 60 people ahead of me and within minutes behind me the kine went around the shrine and out into the church itself. Mind you there were 5 or 6 lines like this some even longer. As I waited in line admiring the statue of Fr Seelos and talking to him in my head, my attention was drawn to the conversation of some women behind me. I honestly don't even remember what was said, but I felt inclined to chime in as ususal and give my opinion. As I turned and spoke there was an older woman I assumed in her late 50's and a young woman probably my age or maybe a bit younger. We exchanged words for a moment and then I turned back to the front of the line. A few moments later the older lady touched my arm and asked who I was there to pray for. I turned to them and explained that I was there for me but that my friends were unable to come for their son and I wanted to ask that a special prayer be said for him as well. I briefly told them Austins story. Through talking to them I found out that they were mother and daughter and we introduced ourselves. Mrs. Myrna went on to tell me that she comes every year for this mass and that she herself is a miracle of Fr Seelos and that no one can ever tell her she isn't. She went on to tell me that 10 years ago she was dignosed with stage 4 lung cancer at the age of 60 something. (wow! I thought to myself - she looked so young and healthy and was such an attractive woman, and now she's in her 70's!) and then it hit me STAGE 4 Lung cancer! I asked what lung and was even more stunned when she said BOTH! When she was diagnosed, she began coming to Fr Seelos and praying to him and came to the healing masses every year. After her 3rd treatment they did a CT scan and couldn't find any cancer whatsoever. NONE - gone! I just couldn't believe it. I said well Mrs. Myrna I have Stage 3 lung cancer in my right lung and it's inoperable, I just had my 3rd traetment and will be getting a CT scan on 1/17. She asked if I had any radiation and I told her no and why I couldn't ect. she went on to tell me she had some radiation first. As we talked we found out that we alot more in common. She didnt lose her hair in chemo, I have not lost mine. She was an HR Manager. I am an HR Manager. I believe it was at that point her daughter made the comment that the two of us were supposed to meet that day. We all agreed. As we talked some more and the line moved up, we exchanged emails and phone numbers. she asked me to keep her posted on my upcoming CT scan and to stay in touch and that she would pray for me. She told me to believe in Fr Seelos and what miracles he can bring. I promised I would. I received my special blessing and asked for Austin to recieve his. I went and found my family and Merri Lee and we sat together and prayed. I cant explain the feeling inside that church that day. There are no words. We made it a point to go to the gift shop and I picked up some scapulars and candles. I knew I wanted to mail one to Austin. I picked up 4 just to have extras as well. And when we were there I also asked about having the perpetual masses said and had one done for Austin. This made me feel good knowing that if I couldn't help in any other way, that at least people would be praying for his recovery directly to Fr Seelos. At some point, I am not sure of what date, but Colleen told me that someone from the Seelos center went to see Austin and they all prayed together over Austin. I was thrilled over this! If I am not mistaken somewhere between January 11th and 15th is when Austin was taken off of the sedation and started coming around. Everyone "knew" there was brain damage, but to what extent? Well one of the first things Austin did as he began to wake up was give a thumbs up to his dad, smile at the nurses and of all things wanted his phone. Again I am not sure of dates bu within days of waking up - Austin was reading text and sending them! Most everyone knows how this story ended - Austin is home and is doing great - he has some things to work on but they are so minor that he is just doing what he has to do to get to 100%. He will be having another surgery sometime in March to replace the piece of skull that was removed, so we need to keep him in our prayers.
January 17th I had the CT scan and the results were what we wanted. The tumor had shrunk from 3.9 to 2.4cm after only 3 treatments. Everything looked good, no fluid around the lung and doc hottie was pretty impressed that I was doing so good physically with the treatments considering how strong they are and that most people go on disability after treatment 2. The plan is to continue thru my initial chemo plan and then after #6 do all the tests. Then he will decide if he wants me to do 1 more cycle and then start a maintenance plan or go directly to maintenance.
Now inbetween praying for Austin and my own treatments and such, my friend Janelle was going thru her treatments and my friend Merri Lee was doing hers. Each one of us experiencing different things. It was interesting to me just how different the side effects were for us and how we were handling it. Janelle has since finished hers thank God and we are waiting on some tests results for her.
I got to see Merri Lee last week and could not get over how great she looks, I am so proud of her. I mean face it - if you have cancer you are going to have bad days, thats a no brainer, but as scared as what she was when all this started, she has really done well and has been blessed with an unbelievable family to support her.
Through posting prayer requets for Austin a friend that I met about 10 years ago when Wayne and I went on our anniversary cruise, sent me a request to pray for her daughter classmate. A 10 year old child who was in ICU. She did not knowthe mother or really what had happened but since I was praying so much she thought maybe I would pray for Katie. I posted a request. And my friend Suzanne would update me on Katie. After a few days, Suzanne had finally connected with Katie's Mother Michelle on FB and asked if I wanted to do the same. Of course - why not. When I looked her up to send the request my jaw hit the ground! Really - it did! Michelle's profile picture was none other than Fr Seelos!!!!!!! I was totally shocked at how he did it again - Fr Seelos seemed to be bringing people to me non stop now. I sent Michelle the request which she accepted and I introduced myself. Suzanne had told her how I had sent the prayer request and she was so touched that strangers would pray for her daughter. Needless to say - I dont feel like she and I are strangers. Now here is Katie's story:
In the words of Michelle - Katie's Mom:
she had a virus with a low-grade fever she developed Jan. 2. She was getting better, was eating and drinking and suddenly collapsed on Jan. 4th. The first miracle was that her dad was home. The second was that I happened to see her walk from her bedroom to the bathroom from where I was sitting in the living room. She never made a sound. She would have never made a move without calling her dad (who stayed up with her all night the previous night taking care of her). I was shocked to see her in the hallway so we both ran to her and by then she collapsed but not from cardiac arrest. We quickly got her dressed to take her to the hospital thinking she was dehyrdrated or something. As soon as we got outside she went into cardiac and resp. arrest. Her dad did CPR until paramedics came. They rushed her to the hospital nearest us where she was given a certain injection (can't remember which right now but it is important to receive this asap) and they got her heart going. By the time I arrived there minutes later, she was already incubated and on multiple IVs and they wereI forgot to say that Katie getting out of bed was a miracle because had she not done this we would have never known she was in distress and she would have died in her bed. God's hand is evident. then rushing her to the children's trauma center where she is today. Today - 2-23-11 notes from Michelle's FB page:Patient care meeting: Katie will be here a little while longer maybe between 2-4 weeks while working on getting her transferred to Hacienda Skilled Care children's rehab in Phoenix. The possibly prognosis from the brain injury Dr was that Katie has suffered total brain injury, and that while she may be seeing, she has no awareness of what she is looking at. We don't necessarily agree with this. The rehab will help her as much as she can be helped to regain some old abilities but it will take "years and years" for her to recover. Then also, she may stop at any place in her rehab and never go any farther. This is what they are telling us. It was a bit difficult to hear this. We have a lot of planning and more life-changing events in front of us. Physically, she is healed from the arrests. Now her brain needs to heal as much as it is able.
Today 2-22-makes 7 weeks.
As you can see Katie and her parents have been through a very hard time over the past 7 weeks. I believe I was introduced to Katie's story when she was in the hospital 3 or 4 weeks. Michelle has alwasy been a believer in Fr Seelos and in 2009 made a trip to New Orleans to visit the Shrine. Again this blew my mind how so many people from all over knew of him, and I didn't. He never ceases to amaze me.
So I had my 4th and 5 th treatments - again uneventful. No problems, other than some fatigue. Now today 2-23-11 I am having some shoulder and leg pain. Its like a constant bruised feeling in my right shoulder, and sore to th etouch. My right thigh feels bruised and when I walk it hurts some. This is the pain from the nupogen shots that I should have started having back in October but never did. Go figure when I only have 1 treatment left I would start to hurt. It doesn't matter - it's not that bad and more annoying than painful anyway. Because I have done so well, Doc Hottie agreed to pushmy last treatment back to 3-14 s that I can go with Alexis and her dance team to NYC as we had planned during the summer. I am so excited I cant stand it! We leave3-6 and return 3-12, and it will be the first Mother/Daughter trip for her and I. I just hope we dont kill each other LOL
Unfortunately, last week, just when I was hoping things were slowing down in the bad news area, another friend, a very good friend, one of my own "ellen's angels" , Gwen was diagnosed with Breast cancer. Monday she had a full masectomy and will be starting chemo immediately. She is a very strong woman and I am confident she will get through just as I am, but it still breaks my heart because I dont want anyone to ever go through any type of cancer ever.
I dont know if it is just me, but it seems that at one time you only heard of "older" people getting cancer. Now it seems that more and more 35-50 year olds are being diagnosed. Cancer no matter what type or what stage is scary. I can put on a happy face for my children, because I have to. I dont want them to carry the burden of worrying more about me than they already do. I hate having cancer. I hate that it takes over everything you do. I hate that you have to constantly go to doctors, and constantly have tests done, and constantly have blood drawn. I hate that I now have to take 7 medications. I hate that I have to take xanax for anxiety and restoril cause I cant sleep. I HATE CANCER! But with that being said, I accept it. I accept that I have cancer. I accept that for whatever reason God has chosen me to bare this cross a second time. I accept that my life is his to do as he so chooses. I accept that God also gives me the will to fight the disease and all the bad things that will come with it.
I know not everyone will feel the same as I do. I know that at times I get angry and have breakdowns. (My poor Mother and what I have put her through when I breakdown) But thats normal. It doesnt mean that that I give up. I will never give up. I have to much good let to do in this lifetime and all I can do is pray to God, to our Blessed Mother, to Fr Seelos, to allow me to heal and to hopefully continue to live a good life.
Ok ... I think you guys can see how busy I have been the past 2 months - all that in addition to the wonderful fundraisers held for me, that I just can't thank everyone enough for. Those who participated and donated towards my medical expenses, you will never know, well at least I hope you will never have to know - how much of a financial burden you have helped to take off of me and Wayne and my family. And of course through all of this I am still working, and doing things with the kids, and pretty much keep on going and going and going. Someone said to me recently, that I do to much and I need to rest and do it (whatever it was at the time) another day. I don't like to put anything off if I can help it - becasue when you live with cancer its always in the back of your mind "is this my last good day, my last day to feel great for a while?" because with me I never know from day to day how I am going to feel. So when I feel good - get out of my way cause I might run you over. LOL
OK guys - I hope you have enjoyed reading my mini novel above LOL... I promise to write again soon... please keep my friend gwen in your prayers tonight as she is home now from the hospital and is just beginning her battle. Andplease continue to pray for Austin and Katie, as well as Janell and Merri Lee. If you have a loved one or friend who has been diagnosed with cancer please pray for them daily - it really does make a difference.
Love to you all....... Ellen