After being diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (ALK positive), my perspective on life has completely changed. As a young mom with no smoking history, this diagnosis was a complete shock for me and my family. Today we try to enjoy every day we have together and are thankful for our blessings. We are trying to be as normal as we can with our family, stay positive, and continue to put our faith in God to help us through this hurdle.
As summer break has started, our girls, Isabella (7½ years old) and Greta (4½ years old), enthusiastically made their Summer Bucket List and we are having fun checking the activities off of our list.
So far, we have checked off a family hiking day, family movie night with popcorn, and camping out in the backyard. One top thing on the list is a lemonade stand that the girls want to do. Isabella says it has to be a fun party lemonade stand, with dance music for kids to enjoy their lemonade and dance to songs by Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift! She also mentioned doing a lemonade stand for a cause with the proceeds going to help others. When she mentioned this my heart melted, and I was one proud mom! She said she wanted the money to go towards people with lung cancer.
Our girls know that not only do we stay happy and pray for mommy's healing, but also know that mommy's medicine is very important and that helps heal mommy too. Now they know a few facts about lung cancer. For example, anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. Mommy's cancer is not hereditary or contagious, but it's important to wash hands to stay healthy because mommy's chemo pills can make mommy sick easier. Mommy's chemo pills makes mommy sleepy sometimes, and makes mommy's legs achy sometimes. They know that we travel to Houston every 90 days to MD Anderson for scans to look inside mommy's body to see if the chemo pills are helping remove the cancer.
What they don't know is how important funding for lung cancer research is or that my body will eventually grow resistant to my daily targeted therapy that is helping keep me alive. If and when that happens I will move on to the next-generation pill, in hopes that I will get a good response and stay on that for a while, and then move to the next generation pill, etc, etc, until there is a cure. There have been some great breakthroughs recently in the lung cancer ALK division, but still have a ways to go. Lung cancer research is one of the least funded cancer divisions, but with the most deaths.
We contacted Katie Brown, Vice President of LUNGevity Foundation, and not only did she like our idea of my kids doing a lemonade stand for LUNGevity, her team designed a cool sign that Isabella and Greta had to 'OK' and help with their input. LUNGevity is also giving us an Instagram "take over" day to capture moments of our special day. We are having fun preparing and putting our ideas together for our "Lemonade for LUNGevity" stand as a family.
Throughout this past year, we have realized how to live in the NOW, don't sweat the small stuff, and enjoy every wink that God gives us every day. We've learned to enjoy life 90 days at a time when I get my scans done. On June 13, my scans were great! According to my doctor I had a "complete metabolic response," which is great news! Realistically I know that my cancer may grow resistant to this treatment, but we are enjoying life in the Now, and celebrating the next 90 days with our fun summer bucket list!
I encourage every family, whatever your passion may be, whether it is a local homeless shelter, or medical funding to have your own stance as a family on something. This has not only taught my girls to give back and help others, but taught me that they are smarter, more creative, and stronger than I gave them credit for.
We are holding our stand on Wednesday, July 12, from 4:00pm-8:00pm ET. If you are in the Knoxville area, please come out and you will make my kids' day! Come for a refreshing glass of lemonade from their "Lemonade for LUNGevity" stand where proceeds will go to helping people like me stay alive! Let's support and fund lung cancer research together to help find a cure for this disease. Fort Sanders health club will also have a raffle bucket with some great prizes. We will have some fun music and dancing too!
What's next on the list after the lemonade stand? Something more low key and fun. We're going to watch a Tennessee Smokies baseball game!