Updates from Cancerland

I haven’t posted in quite awhile. I’ve thought about it. Had several ideas, but frankly, summer was tough. I lost another good friend to this dreaded disease on July 6th. My friend S., whom you can read about in the post entitled “Friends in Low Places” (August 2014) passed away. She fought cancer for what seemed like a lifetime. This past round they gave her 6 months, and true to form, she lived two years. She was the embodiment of life and living. She was an amazing woman, who everyone wanted to be around. Losing her stung and will for years to come. Losing my cousin in January and S in July……… there are just no words.

Anyway, I wanted to update my health situation on my blog. It’s all good news. In July, my scan showed the active cancer areas had either resolved or become less active. It looks as if the new medications are working. I am truly grateful and happy, but there is also that sense of guilt. Watching others struggle, slowly fade away, and eventually die, while I seem to be given second, third, fourth chances…….It’s called survivor’s guilt. I’m sure most are familiar with the term. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I do anyway. I don’t think it’s something that can be avoided.

My oncologist is on maternity leave until November. I will see a physician’s assistant on Monday, receive my shots, and hopefully another cycle of Ibrance. Blood counts are the deciding factor and for the last few cycles, while my counts definitely go down, they do not drop low enough to justify stopping the medication. Especially if it is working. Other than the blood counts, side effects are minimal to none. I think I actually feel better on this medication than I did on my last one. I seem to have more energy and my joints do not hurt nearly as much. I’m exercising more and even walked a 5K in August with my friends. My new routine has me walking one 5K per week and hopefully building up to a 10K walk in October. I will let you know how it goes. I continue to work full time as well.

Sorry for the solemn post. My creativity just isn’t flowing as usual. Too much loss in too short a period of time. I’m hoping to emerge from my emotional slump soon.

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Milestone

On November 14, 2001, I woke up from surgery and heard the confirmation that I did indeed have breast cancer. The memory is vivid and so are the thoughts that ensued. Cancer? I’m 28! I’m a single mom! My child is 3 years old! I can’t die! It was a mix of disbelief and panic. How could this happen?

I didn’t have a lot of time to ponder the hows and the whys of the situation. I had to make some decisions. I was told my cancer was stage IIA. The tumor was 2.5 centimeters (anything over 2.0 is automatically stage II) but there was no evidence of cancer in the lymph nodes that were removed and dissected. Because of my young age, it was recommended that I undergo chemotherapy to “clean up” any rogue cancer cells and then radiation if I chose to keep the breast or a mastectomy if I wanted to forego the radiation. I began chemotherapy before the end of the month and was bald by Christmas. It’s amazing how quickly it all happened. I had only found the lump (by accident) on November 2nd.

Anyway, during my chemotherapy, I decided that I was going to do anything and everything to stay alive. I wanted to raise my son. And, if for some reason I couldn’t stay to watch him grow up, it would not be because I hadn’t done absolutely everything I could. I think losing a parent is hard, no matter what your age. But, I certainly didn’t want my premature death to scar him for life. I set my goal as his high school graduation. 15 years. Practically a lifetime for a cancer patient. I had my conversation with God and asked that he give me those years. I wouldn’t get greedy, I wouldn’t ask for more. Just get me to that magical day in 2016 and I will die a happy woman.

After the 5 year mark, I started to relax a bit. The doctors said that most recurrences happen in the first 5 years. I was also told that if I made it 10 years, I could say I beat it. So, November 2011 was the 10 year mark! I celebrated big and let out a huge sigh of relief. That relief lasted all of 10 weeks. In March 2012, re-diagnosis. Stage IV. No cure. Average survival 3-5 years. It was at this point I began to seriously doubt whether or not I would get to that high school graduation.

However, on May 18th………….IT HAPPENED!!!! I saw my son walk across the stage and receive his high school diploma. Talk about a sigh of relief. Not to mention a world of emotions……pride, joy, sadness, love, gratefulness. It was an amazing moment and I truly could not be more thankful that I actually got to see it. Although a big milestone for Nick, I think an enormous milestone for me. Publicly, it was all about Nick, privately, I celebrated MY accomplishment.

So, now what? 19 days from now, Nick will turn 18. We will be in Puerto Rico to celebrate. Can I say I officially “raised” him? I met my goal, reached my milestone. Can I die? Yeah, I guess. But here’s the thing……I don’t want too. I want more. More years, more life. I guess it’s inevitable that it’s never going to be enough. Do I dare ask for more? Am I tempting fate? Am I being greedy? These are the questions that I contemplate. I am also contemplating setting a new goal. I don’t know what it should be. Nick’s college graduation maybe? My nephew’s high school graduation in 6 years? Or, something else?

I can’t project myself too far into the future. I think I know better than to go as far as a wedding or perhaps a grandchild, although those aren’t impossible, they are unlikely. My doctor says I need to set a new goal, but I never really thought about what I would do after I made it to graduation day. ¬†Maybe I don’t set any specific goal. Maybe, I take my own advice and live each day as it comes, not worrying about the future. I guess I should be thankful for the opportunity to look into the future. I have to say, in 2012, even buying green bananas caused me to pause.

Anyhow, I’m open to suggestions. Any advice?

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A quick health update: Cycle 3 of Ibrance starts tomorrow, providing my blood counts are good. Cycle 1 left me neutropenic…….meaning my white cell count was very low which leaves me open to infection. I did not get sick however. Cycle 2, blood counts were low but not as low as cycle 1. The hope is that my body will adjust to the medication and my white cell counts will not drop as drastically as they did in cycle 1. Otherwise, it could be a very long and miserable winter full of colds, flus, and who knows what else. I still get the faslodex shots once a month. The shots don’t hurt while getting them, but the injection sites are EXTREMELY sore for several days afterward. They are literally a “pain in the butt!” Next scan is probably going to be in September.

In 9 days I’m off to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean! Maybe some time away will give me some perspective. Let’s hope I come home with perspective and NOT the zika virus!ūüėČ

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Even Years

I’m beginning to dislike “even” years. 2012-re-diagnosis, 2014-progression, and now 2016-more progression. It’s probably nothing personal, but these even years seem to bring cancer back into the spotlight of my life.

I had a scan on March 25th, and sure enough, the cancer is again on the move. I think I was mentally prepared for it. I hadn’t had any physical symptoms of progression, it was just a feeling I had inside. It’s funny how you really get to know your body while dealing with a terminal illness.

So the report showed a prominent and “glowing” spot near my sternum, as well as cancerous activity in the pelvic region…..right where the pelvis meets the femur. And it’s on both sides. The radiologist was also kind enough to note in his report that I’m fat and constipated. I’m pretty sure those diagnosis could have happened without an $8000 scan. Thanks doc!

We are moving on to new treatment. I am receiving shots of Faslodex (fulvestrant) every month. I have to have an extra loading dose so I received the first dose on March 25th and another dose on April 8th. After my April 25th dose, then it goes to once per month. Besides being very sore at the injection sites (my butt cheeks), side effects seem minimal. I have a bad taste in my mouth and feel a little tired for a couple of days.

On Tuesday, I started Palbociclib. This is a brand new drug, just approved by the FDA in February of 2015. It’s only been approved for use with Faslodex since February of 2016. It’s hard to get much newer than that. If you Google the drug, it’s hard not to notice that it retails for about $9,800 monthly. Luckily I will pay $50 a month. Thank goodness for health insurance. The jury is still out on whether this drug is officially a “chemotherapy” drug. The doctors say no, but the package insert says yes. I’m not sure who to believe. Regardless, my main concern is the side effects. The list is long, as it is with most medications. The one that frightens me most is the likely drop in blood counts around day 15 of the cycle. I take the drug for 21 days and then go off for 7 days to allow my blood counts to hopefully rebound. I am currently on day 6, so we will see what occurs. Who knows, maybe I will be the lucky one who’s blood counts tolerate the medicine with no trouble. My only side effect so far is a slightly upset stomach.

In the midst of all of this, my oncologist has decided to retire! Many may be thinking this isn’t a big deal, but you tend to become very attached to your doctors when your life hangs in the balance. I really like my doctor and this just isn’t a good time for him to retire! I tried to convince him to stay but he said the only way he’ll ever get caught up is to retire! So I guess I have to let him go. I have to feel somewhat bad for my new oncologist. I hope she can handle me. I’m sure she can handle my cancer, but can she handle my attitude and sick sense of humor? Another “wait and see.”

Life is somewhat surreal right now. On one hand I have all of this cancer crap, but on the other there is a ¬†very big milestone about to occur. Nick graduates in about 7 weeks! Way back when I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2001, my goal was to live long enough to see my baby graduate from high school. It looks like it’s about to happen! 4 years ago, when I was re-diagnosed, I wasn’t so sure it was going to happen. It’s a huge milestone for Nick, but also for me. Any time I get from that point on, truly will be “icing on the cake.” And, I have to say, I think I have some more years left in me!

Shortly after the big graduation, we leave on a Caribbean cruise.  And then of course the summer will allow me to get caught up, relax, and rejuvenate so that I can hopefully start the next school year strong.

Here’s hoping the new drugs are kind to me and that my next update will be filled with good news. I will likely be scanned again over the summer so stay tuned………

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Heartbreak

Although you know that life is going to inevitably bring pain and suffering, it still sucks. I am going through one of those particularly “sucky” times right now. It is not my health, but that of my beloved cousin that has pulled the rug from underneath me. I have always found writing therapeutic, and since she is going to lose her life to the very same disease I have, I think a blog post is rather appropriate.

J. is 11 years older than me. She grew up in Cincinnati and I mostly in Colorado. When I would spend summers in Cincinnati, I think I became the little sister she never really wanted. I, on the other hand, loved having a big sister as I had only a younger brother growing up. We had plenty of rough times during those summers, as we, like all siblings, competed for her parent’s attention. But, I distinctly remember wanting to be around her. I watched in awe as she water skied on the Ohio river. I cheered for her at her softball games. And I relished the attention she would give me when she took me to her work place, or with her friends to a fireworks show. Her sense of humor and capacity for “fun” made her one of those people everyone loved to be around.

As I became an adult, trips back to Cincinnati became few and far between. I would go for a short visit every few years as I knew my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandmother wanted to see my son. I wanted my son to know them as well. Even as an adult I have many fond memories of Cincinnati and trips to spend time with my family. And of course, I loved seeing J. each and every time I was there.

J.’s mother, my aunt, was truly one of my favorite people. Aunt B. was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in the¬†mid 80’s. She died in 2009. For well over 20 years she fought the dreaded monster and was always an inspiration to me as I fought through my first diagnosis in 2001. It seems cancer sort of “took over” my mother’s side of the family in the late 90’s and it really hasn’t stopped since. J. lived through an initial diagnosis of melanoma in 2005. Aunt B. was re-diagnosed with breast cancer again in the mid-90’s, just as my aunt S. passed away from the disease in 1996. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer just 7 short months after me in 2002. It has really been quite relentless.

I think J. and I became closer after her mother, my aunt B. died in 2009. The real bonding came the next year when J. was diagnosed with breast cancer. I helped her navigate her way through diagnosis and treatment. I quickly became re-acquainted with the cancer vocabulary and I remember thinking how unfair this all was to her, especially so soon after losing her mother. But, like most she fought back and refused to succumb to this disease that had hurt us all for so long.

In 2011, we took J. on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate life. She had lived through breast cancer, she was turning 50 that year, and we needed to acknowledge it all in a big way. The trip was amazing. To this day, it is still one of my favorite vacations. There was a group of 12 and we all had a blast. J. bonded with some of my best friends and they quickly came to love her as I did.

Then came the turning point for me. In 2012 I was re-diagnosed with breast cancer metastatic to the bones. I was told there was no cure and all further treatment would be to control the disease and extend my life if possible. The average life span with a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis is 3-5 years. Yet, here I am, almost four years later, not only surviving, but thriving. Later that same year, J. was re-diagnosed metastatic as well. The sooner you relapse after initial diagnosis, the worse the prognosis tends to be. I had gone 10 years before relapse, J. not quite three years later.

So, by the end of 2012, we found ourselves in the same boat, fighting for our lives and futures. We both had breast cancer in our bones. We spent a lot of time talking doctors, treatments, side effects, prognosis, and fear. We also went on several more trips together. Another Caribbean cruise in 2013, an Alaskan cruise in 2014, and 10 days on the beaches of Florida, just this past summer in 2015. We had some incredible experiences together. Zip lining, swimming with dolphins, standing on a glacier, collecting buckets full of seashells, just to name a few.

It did not take long for J’s cancer to spread into her liver. But, she never gave up. She had a positive attitude, an incredible sense of humor, and strong will to live. She took each new treatment and made the best of it. Despite confounding conditions that included congestive heart failure, she continued to live and make the very most of every day she had.

At the beginning of this year, just over 2 weeks ago, J. was told that the cancer was spreading in her liver and they wanted to try a new chemo. On Monday, January 11th she received the first dose and then basically crashed. She was admitted to the hospital but made it very clear that she wanted to go home. By Wednesday, hospice was involved. Today, I’m told she probably has hours, days at best. My mother is by her side, along with her dad, and a friend that has been with her through everything. She is comfortable.

On the other hand, I am heartbroken! Angry, sad, frustrated, and tired all rolled up in a ball in the center of my chest as I await the inevitable phone call. Even when you know and expect something, it somehow doesn’t seem to make it much easier. Logically, I can tell myself not to feel guilty, but it doesn’t matter. I do feel guilty. Why her and not me? Why do I get to keep on living but her short life has come to an end? I feel so helpless. There are few times in my life that I would describe myself as being in an utter state of despair, but this is definitely the state I am in at the moment. There are no answers to my questions. I get it. But, it doesn’t stop me asking, because, damn it! it just isn’t fair.

My only comfort now, is knowing that Aunt B. is waiting for J. Knowing that they will be reunited on the other side. I also take comfort in knowing that the pain and suffering that J. has endured over the past 5 years is going to end. She never gave up. I will miss her and hold her in my heart forever. dolphinjen

 

 

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Life, has been busy! And really, that’s a good thing. I happen to like that my life is so focused on something other than cancer, that I have not written a blog post in over three months! Although I must admit I have had the best of intentions, because I know some like to be updated. But my job has really had me engrossed in psychology, IB, and US History. Nonetheless, here is a little story from cancerland.

About a month ago, I went in for my 6 month scan. In July, I tried to talk the PA into waiting until December, but she said that she felt better if I got one in September. I have never gone more than 6 months without a scan, so she thought it wise to continue with this plan. So, I agreed and scheduled the scan for the afternoon. I am trying to take as little time off of work as possible, and this allowed me to go after work. The only problem is not being able to eat 8 hours prior to the scan. Not eating all day while sitting around the house is one thing, not eating while working a full day is another. I made it through the day and off I went for yet another scan.

It never really gets any easier. The anxiety, the anticipation, the “what ifs” that go along with being scanned. What if a new spot of cancer shows up? What if it moves into a vital organ? What if I have to go back on chemotherapy? I thought after 10 or so scans, these worrisome thoughts might decrease, but no such luck.

The scan was on a Thursday, so I promised I wouldn’t bug the doctor until AT LEAST Monday. I did manage to wait patiently, but, finally, Monday afternoon I emailed the office and requested a copy of the scan report. It took until Wednesday, but I did get the report. I am reading through it and it sounds like good news. Nothing new, all known spots are stable, and then I saw IT! Thrown in, almost at the end of the report, was the phrase “new suspicious mass on adrenal gland.”

As I let this sink in, questions started popping up in my head. Which side? How big? What is the SUV uptake? All of this information usually accompanies news of a new location of spread. But, it said nothing other than that one phrase. It really bothered me, but I had to go with what the report said. I started googling adrenal gland information and looking at treatment possibilities. You know me. I am the “information is power” kind of person. Ultimately, I had to wait until my appointment on Friday.

As we sat in the oncologist’s office, I admit I was pretty nervous. Not that anytime is a good time for the disease to progress, but having just started teaching in a new building, I was extra nervous about what this could mean in terms of treatment, time off, etc.

My doctor pulled up the scan and we looked at it together. We looked, and looked. He asked me if I saw anything. (like I would know????) He said he didn’t see anything. He suggested that maybe it was a mistake. Really? a mistake? Is that even possible? I think he sensed my frustration and knew I was not going to be able to rest easy unless we had actual confirmation that it was indeed a mistake. So, he pulled out his cell phone and called the radiologist who read the scan and wrote the report. Of course, this person was unavailable and we had to wait. In the meantime, I headed to the infusion room for my Zometa.

While getting the infusion, my oncologist came to the room to inform me that the scan report was indeed an error. It was supposed to read “NO suspicious mass on adrenal gland” as opposed to “NEW suspicious mass on adrenal gland.” The following week he even emailed me an amended copy of the scan report.

Now, overall, I am relieved. The mistake was in my favor and I am certainly glad that we caught the mistake. BUT…..and this is a pretty big BUT…….I couldn’t help but wonder what if it had gone the other way? Are mistakes like this common? My oncologist seemed to think so. I have to say that I have a lot less faith in the scan reports. It never really occurred to me that mistakes like this are common. We are talking about health. Not just health, but situations that have serious implications. Life and death type of implications.

I have always felt that I am lucky to receive excellent medical care. I hear the horror stories, but really never have encountered anything like this before. I guess in my situation, one is bound to have an experience or two, or more come up in which mistakes are made. Perhaps I’m lucky to have gone this long without such an experience.

So did I learn anything from this? Well, yes actually. I learned that ONE word can make a huge difference in meaning. I learned to question medical professionals, because they are human and can make mistakes. And, even though this isn’t new, I learned that you must always be an active participant in your health care. That is the best advice I can give to anyone when interacting with the medical community. Question, confirm, and even annoy until you are satisfied. It can make a huge difference!

My next visit to the oncologist will be in early January. Unless, of course, there are symptoms or problems that would require an earlier visit. Fingers crossed that I don’t have to see them until January. I do not know when my next scan will be, but this one has left me with a few more gray hairs. I am in no hurry to go back, but, with a stage IV diagnosis, there will always be a next time.

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Tough

On July 6th I went in for my oncology check up. I saw a physician’s assistant instead of my doctor who was on vacation. All of my blood work came back good with the exception of my vitamin D level. So it was a pretty boring appointment and routine infusion. As part of my examination, the PA asked me several questions. She asked me if I was in any pain from the cancer itself. We had already discussed the aggravating side effects of the medication I am on for the cancer, but this was a different question. I told her I was not in pain from the cancer, and really never have been. She looked at me and said “you must be one tough cookie!” This got me thinking.

What exactly does it mean to be “tough?” Am I tough? I looked up the definition. It defined tough as “capable of great endurance; sturdy; hardy.” Now this can of course refer to some sort of inanimate object or material, but I am thinking in terms of people. What exactly makes a person tough?

Having cancer does require a certain degree of endurance. I continually endure numerous medical tests and procedures to determine the current status of cancer’s residency in my body. I endure multiple needle sticks while having blood drawn and getting infusions. A curse of having veins that are hard to locate. I endure the crappy side effects of medication that is necessary to control the disease.¬†I endure the uncertainty of my health, my physical abilities, and of my future. I endure watching my family deal with my disease and all of the messy details that go along with it. Yet, despite the things I endure, I don’t think this makes me tough. There are too many others that endure a lot more.

Here are some examples of people I think are tough:

Hunter Treschle. Hunter lost his arm to a shark last month at just 16 years old. Just weeks after this horrific event, Hunter spoke of deciding that his life would go on and still be great, even without his arm. Now that’s tough!

Aron Ralston. Aron was trapped while rock climbing in Utah. In order to survive he had to amputate his own arm using a pocket knife. Even then he had to make his way through a canyon and rappel down a 65 ft. cliff in order to reach safety. So yeah, that guy is tough!

Malala Yousafzai. Malala was shot because she was attempting to become educated. Educating females in some countries is considered a crime. Malala recovered and became a human rights activist. Her story is widely known and her work continues. This, my friends, is tough.

Many other nameless and faceless people are pretty tough.

Holocaust  and other war survivors. People who were starved, beaten, tortured because of their beliefs and their faith.  Those people are tough.

Victims of natural disasters. It seems all too common that we hear of people who lose absolutely everything to a tornado, fire, hurricane, or flood. Yet, for every tragic story, there are many more stories of people who overcome their difficulties and move on. They become closer families, better neighbors, more appreciative of what they have. That’s pretty tough.

Single parents. I can honestly say that parenting is the hardest job in the world. Raising children without the support of a partner and making decisions that effect the lives of¬† children all by yourself. That’s incredibly tough.

I could go on and on with examples of people in various walks of life who have shown to be “capable of great endurance.” There are so many I could probably fill books with examples, not just a simple blog post. Maybe some people do consider me to be tough. In some ways, maybe I am. But I have to say that I don’t personally consider my capability to endure to be anything in comparison to what others go through. I know it’s not a competition, but really, I truly couldn’t imagine surviving what I have seen others survive.

I think we all have to play the cards we are dealt in life. We all have to endure at various points in our lives. I can think of very few people who haven’t had to endure circumstances that they do not choose. Our circumstances are a combination of decisions, fate, and luck.¬†There is simply too much that we can’t control.¬†It reminds me of quotes by Marvin J. Ashton….

“WE CAN’T ALWAYS CONTROL OUR CIRCUMSTANCES BUT WE CAN CONTROL OUR ATTITUDE.

WE MUST BE MORE CONCERNED WITH WHAT WE DO WITH WHAT HAPPENS TO US THAN WHAT HAPPENS TO US.

HAPPINESS DOES NOT DEPEND ON WHAT HAPPENS OUTSIDE OF YOU BUT ON WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE OF YOU.‚ÄĚ

Perhaps the¬†real definition of “tough” is someone who understands these concepts, embraces them, and¬†uses them when the circumstances call for it. And maybe we as humans are all tough or can learn to be tough. We just don’t know how tough we are until we have no other choice.

 

 

 

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The Fine Line

As I have shared many times previously, the worst part of having cancer is the uncertainty. You never know from month to month, day to day, even hour to hour, whether or not your health status will remain stable or drastically change. Every little symptom, ache, pain, twitch, hangnail, etc becomes a moment of panic. Everyday problems and issues that can be easily dismissed as muscle aches, stress head aches, bug bites, and problems that accompany the aging process cause anxiety and worry over whether or not they could be somehow related to the cancer. It’s not a fun way to go through the day, but like many other aspects of this diagnosis, you learn to live with it. It is also a blessing in the sense that it motivates you to appreciate every “ordinary” day and do what you can to recognize the ordinary as extraordinary.

Recently, I was reminded in powerful ways that the uncertainty really does not apply only to cancer patients. Every person is really one breath away from their lives drastically changing or even ending! First, I found out that a former student, just 31 years old, was diagnosed¬†with stage iv ovarian cancer. She passed away after a two year battle with the disease on May 11th. She was a 2002 graduate and is the mother of a 6 year old and a 2 year old. Everyone is aware that cancer does not discriminate based on age. Everyone, even children, are diagnosed with cancer. But, it becomes real when it’s not just random people on the St. Jude’s commercial on television. It is much different to actually KNOW someone who’s life¬†has been¬†stolen from them.

Another sudden tragic death of an amazing man occurred on May 2nd. A JCEA colleague, just 44 years old, died of a heart attack. He left behind a wife, daughter, parents, brother, and hundreds of former students and co-workers. It was sudden, unexpected, untimely, and it was incredibly painful. It leaves me wondering if perhaps a long illness isn’t a better option. At least you have time to plan and to say goodbye.

I attended both funerals, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Needless to say, it was a difficult weekend and left me with a lot of thoughts and reflections about death. But, here is the “ah-ha” moment for me. As I looked around the rooms while at the services for both of these individuals, I realized that I am really not so different from anyone else in the room. Yes, I live with a life threatening illness that will, at some point, likely lead to my death. But, every single person in both rooms, will eventually come to the same end. We are all going to die. I think that is a secondary reason¬†why people hate funerals. It is a reminder of their own mortality.

I tried to convince myself that attending funerals as a person living with cancer has got to be more difficult. But really, it is not. Never did I imagine that these two people would depart life before me. And as I looked around, I wondered how many others would go before me, and how many would go after me. The simple truth is that no one knows how many days we are meant to walk on earth. We do not come with expiration dates stamped on the bottom of our feet. Believe me, being the “planner” that I am, I have looked, and sure enough, there is nothing there!

So I am left to ponder the senseless and untimely deaths of two young, vibrant, energetic, people. I guess, just as life is not fair, neither is death. The lesson is the same for everyone, sick or healthy, old or young. Live your days to the fullest. Embrace the ones you love every chance you get. Don’t put off until tomorrow, what can be accomplished today. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone! We all walk the fine line between this life and the next.

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