Living with Stage 4 Lung Cancer – An Update on How I am Doing

I have only written one blog post about my cancer and that was three years ago, just after I was diagnosed. 

I mention my cancer every now and then in the newsletter that I send to my blog subscribers, but not often in a blog post.  Why? Frankly, it is just too depressing to write about.

Dog and woman sitting on a dock
4th of July weekend 2020 – Waiting on the Ice Cream Boat

Today I’m going to do something that I don’t like to do, I am going to talk about my cancer and what it has been like to live with lung cancer for three and a half years.

There is some not so great news that you’ll read later in this post but also some good news.

I’m going to tell my whole story because I feel like it may somehow help someone who is going through a lung cancer diagnosis.

I am thankful to still be here three and a half years later.  Without modern medicine, I have no doubt that I would be dead.

2017

If you haven’t read my only other blog post about my cancer, please read it first before you continue.

Picking up with my story, after meeting with the oncologist assigned to me, I was sent for a PET scan, brain MRI, and a bronchoscopy. At the time I didn’t question getting a bronchoscopy, I did it because I was told I needed it.

I now believe that the bronchoscopy was unnecessary because I had already had a biopsy of my tumor in Roanoke and that hospital had sent tissue to be tested for mutations.

The local oncologist to whom I was assigned totally ignored the fact that I had already had a biopsy and made no effort to see if tissue had been sent to be tested. So, I was put through an invasive test that required anesthesia and was very expensive and I didn’t even need to have it.

Once I had the PET scan, MRI, and bronchoscopy, I finally had an appointment to see the oncologist to find out my fate. (When I had my bronchoscopy, that surgeon, who was wonderful, shared that my brain MRI was clear. Good news!)

The local oncologist was not prepared for my appointment, had notes scratched on a scrap of paper, and was scrambling around on his computer to look at my results. With absolutely no bedside manner, he informs me that I have stage four lung cancer and that not only did I have cancer in my lung, lymph nodes around my lungs, but also in a spot on my spine.

I then pass out.

Not in a way that was easy to understand, he informed me that the next step was to send my tissue off to be tested for mutations and the results would be back in a few weeks. He appeared to have wanted the office visit to be as short as possible and his bedside manner was dreadful.

He called a few hours later to inform me that he forgot to tell me that my PET scan also showed cancer in my thyroid. I told you he was unprepared.

At that time, I didn’t realize that the mutation results were just a few clicks away on the computer if he had bothered to investigate which he didn’t.

Meanwhile, a HUGE BLESSING happened. My sweet cousin, Amanda, is an oncology nurse at UVA. She called me and urged me to get a second opinion and she got an appointment for me at UVA just a few days after I saw my local oncologist.

My experience at UVA was completely different. My UVA oncologist was very well prepared for my appointment, he wasn’t in a hurry, and he explained everything, making sure that I understood what he was telling me.

He told me that I had non-small cell adenocarcinoma with an EGFR mutation. I questioned him how he knew that since my local oncologist stated that more testing was needed. He then turned to his computer, found the results of my testing from Roanoke, and his diagnosis was confirmed. The tests that my local oncologist stated that he needed for a diagnosis, had already been performed!

At that moment, Dr. Hall at UVA became my oncologist and the next day I told the local one that I would not be coming back and explained why. This is the best treatment decision I could have made. Dr. Hall has been awesome throughout this ordeal. He is always well prepared, he spends substantial time with me, and he and his team coordinate my treatments so that all I have to do is show up, no coordinating necessary by me. I am so grateful that I was able to be his patient.

If you face a cancer diagnosis, I strongly urge you to get a second opinion.

Before I could start treatment, UVA wanted to biopsy my thyroid to see if it was lung cancer that had metastasized or if it was a separate issue. It is unusual for lung cancer to mestacisize to the thyroid, so we needed to know.

The results showed that the thyroid cancer was indeed the same as my lung cancer, so after that was determined, I was able to start treatment.

I started taking Tarceva, a targeted therapy drug, in mid-March 2017. By this time, at night I could only sleep with my head elevated, even doing that, my breathing sounded horrible. If I did not have my head elevated, I coughed terribly.

After two days, my nighttime breathing difficulties and cough were nearly gone. In less than a week, I could sleep flat on my back with normal breathing and no cough.

I felt amazing when I exercised at this point.

Dog and woman admiring a lake
July 2020 – Smith Mountain Lake State Park

The side effects of Tarceva were tolerable. I had frequent diarrhea: I developed an acne like rash on my face, chest, and back; and my hair thinned.

In May, my oncologist suggested adding a every three week infusion of Avastin to my treatment. Research showed that adding this drug kept patients on Tarceva longer before the cancer progressed.

The first few infusions of Avastin didn’t bother me, then I started to have horrible side effects. Typically Avastin is a drug that is well tolerated by patients with very few side effects. One possible side effect is muscle cramping and this hit me hard.

The first horrible muscle problem was my lower back. The muscles seized up just before 4th of July. My wonderful pt and friend, Heather, was able to calm those muscles down and I had hopes that I was then ok. But I wasn’t.

I have had on and off back problems for over ten years. The Avastin aggravated my back problem and to this day my back still gives me fits.

Next, my adductor seized when I did a lunge at the Y. Once again, Heather treated me and I thought I was ok.

My tennis team won at the local level that spring and we went to Norfolk to compete at the district level. I was on the court only minutes until my calf seized and I was on the ground.

Heather treated me once again but by August, I could hardly shuffle down the street without feeling like a muscle would seize up at any moment.

Every step I took, even around the house, I had to move very slowly to not trigger a muscle pull.

I was miserable because I like to be active and I couldn’t do much of anything. At my next oncology appointment, I broke down in tears, and the decision was made to stop Avastin.

Even though I stopped Avastin in August, I was plagued with symptoms from it well into 2018. My calves constantly had painful knots, I had nerve pain that raced down both hamstrings, and I had sciatic pain on my right side. It took a solid year before I felt good again.

Hiking with Sherman Skulina in Smith Mountain Lake State Park
July 2020 – Hiking with Sherman in Smith Mountain Lake State Park

After starting Tarceva in March, I had scans every two months to monitor my progress. It was a relief to get the first scan and to find out that the spot on my spine had disappeared, my thyroid spot was stable, and the tumor in my lung had shrunk significantly.

During the fall I tried my best to get back to tennis, cycle class, and running, but because of my ongoing back problems and my calf knots I couldn’t do much.

This was as hard for me mentally as well as physically because my friend groups were mostly centered around school and my activities.

I no longer saw my beloved teacher friends; I couldn’t play tennis, so I didn’t see those friends; I couldn’t run, so I lost those friends; and I couldn’t do cycle class, so those friends were out as well.

Through all of this, I have had a select few friends who have rallied around me and I don’t know what I would do without them. And of course, my family is always there for me.

Visiting the neighborhood vegetable stand
July 2020 – Reese, Mama, me walking to a neighborhood produce stand at the lake.

Here’s a tip from me to you: If you know someone going through something tough, don’t just reach out to them one time. Send them a quick text or an email. Let them know that you miss them and you’re thinking about them. Little things like this mean the world.

When I couldn’t do much physically, I still had this blog. Focusing on my blog has been the best thing ever for me. It keeps me busy, it motivates me to complete projects to shared, and I love the connections that I’ve made with women all over the US through blogging.

Blogging from a family room at Smith Mountain Lake, VA
July 2020 – Working on my Blog

2018

My January 2018 scan showed a new spot on my adrenal gland. When I was scanned again in March, the spot had increased significantly, so I had to endure a biopsy to test the tumor for mutations.

The mutation test showed that I developed a new mutation, T790 which meant that I was able to switch to a different targeted therapy medication, Tagrisso.

Smith Mountain Lake View
July 2020 – Morning at the lake

During this time, I also was invited to enroll in a clinical trial that combined Tagrisso with another drug. A brain MRI that I had as part of the enrolling requirement sadly showed that my cancer had spread to my brain which disqualified me for the trial.

Tagrisso crosses the blood/brain barrier and my oncologist felt like it would treat my brain spots and it did.

Tagrisso has been very kind to my body. The Tarceva rash went away and now my skin looks great. Instead of losing hair, Tagrisso has made my hair thick and kinky. I have to work hard when I dry it to get it to look straight. Other side effects that I experience on occasion are mouth sores and diarrhea.

The stress of having progression in my cancer and being plagued with back problems that kept me from my beloved running, cycle, weight lifting, and tennis came to a head in June. I was horribly depressed and I developed frequent anxiety attacks.

My wonderful oncologist sent me to a UVA palliative care doctor who prescribed an antidepressant and anxiety medication that helped me immensely.

Heather continued to help me with my back and by August I was mentally feeling like my old self.

At this point, I desperately wanted to do exercise other than walking, but I was very afraid of getting hurt. Heather’s husband is a personal trainer and we decided that the best way to get me back to the gym was to work with Ken. Heather let him know what exercises I can and can’t do because of my back and Ken planned workouts that challenged me but were safe for my back.

I’ve worked with Ken for almost two years now and it has been the best thing for me physically and mentally. I’m stronger now than I was before I was diagnosed with cancer

The rest of 2018 my scans were good and I had come to terms with the fact that I had to give up running, tennis, and cycle class. For cardio, walking, the elliptical, rowing, and a stationary bike where my upper body isn’t leaned over are all things that my back allows me to do which makes me happy.

Dog and woman on a boat at Smith Mountain Lake, VA.
July 2020 – Enjoying a boat ride with Sherman

2019

My cancer remained stable through 2019 and I got my exercise endorphins through working with Ken, working in my yard, going to the Y, and walking.

Visitor's center at Smith Mountain Lake State Park
July 2020 – Post hike visitor’s center visit at Smith Mountain Lake State Park

Through 2019, every three months, a brain MRI and a chest/abdomen CT scan is performed. The tests are not bad at all. What is scary is waiting for the doctor to come into the room to tell you the results.

When people ask me how it feels to live with cancer, I tell them that it is like walking on a tightrope over the Grand Canyon with greased feet. At any time, your feet can slip and you fall.

It was wonderful to walk on that tightrope all through 2019 and not fall one single time.

2020

My cancer was stable for my January and April tests.

Mountain view at Smith Mountain Lake State Park
July 2020 – View from a trail in Smith Mountain Lake State Park

Tagrisso typically works for an average of 18 months before the cancer mutates. I’ve now been on Tagrisso for a little over 26 months which makes scan day even more stressful.

My latest tests were on July 22 and that tightrope was feeling especially slippery as July 22 got closer and closer.

Like always, doing the tests wasn’t bad at all. UVA is wonderful and I meet with all of my doctors within hours of having the tests to get my results.

For the July 22 results, I got both good news and bad news.

The good news was that my chest and abdomen CT scan showed those areas to be stable.

The bad news was a spot in my brain grew since April and it needs to be treated.

On July 30 I am scheduled to have Gamma Knife Radiosurgery at UVA. If you click on the link, you can see the doctor who is treating me in the short video and his credentials are amazing. I feel like I am in the best possible hands!

If you want to know exactly what I’m going to experience, you can watch this video. The only part that distresses me is having the halo attached to my head with four screws.

Over the years, I’ve become pretty adept at calming myself. I’ll be channeling all of those skills while wearing that halo and undergoing the procedure.

If you are the praying type, please pray that this procedure zaps the pesky spot in my brain and also pray that my medication will continue to keep my cancer stable.

Smith Mountain Lake Sunset
July 2020 – Sunset at Smith Mountain Lake

I really, really want to keep living and I really, really don’t want to die from lung cancer. I watched my dad die of it and I always told my students to NEVER smoke because dying that way is a horrible way to go. I didn’t smoke, took good care of myself, yet here I am.

Boating at Smith Mountain Lake, VA
July 2020 – Evening SML boat ride

A valuable lesson that I have learned over my 3 and a half years of living with lung cancer is to appreciate and LIVE every second of every day. Each day is a gift and I do my best to enjoy every minute of it.

My talented cousin, Mary, designed this graphic after reading my post.

Appreciate and Live Every Second of Every Day

Visit Mary’s Etsy shop to see all of her designs including custom made dog stickers. She made a Sherman sticker that is adorable!

Other Posts I’ve Written About My Cancer

121 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. You’ve been so inspirational in your fight with cancer and those awful side effects. Sending big hugs and prayers your way. You’ve got this, sweet friend!

    1. Paula, you’ve been on my mind and in my prayers when I see you pop up in my feed. You are a strong woman and doing everything possible. I’m so proud of you!! Know you are covered in prayer. God’s got you.

  2. My thoughts are with you. I just moved from Virginia, a beautiful state. It sound as if you are doing all the right things. I agree…..enjoy every day.

  3. Thanks for sharing Paula. I’m so glad you got a second opinion and have good, caring doctors. I can relate to your back issues and not being able to work out like before! Your trainer sounds amazing! You’ll be in my thoughts. 💗

  4. My prayers have been with you since you first shared your journey with us. I have wondered about your progress and I now marvel at your strength to endure such stress. I will continue to pray for you. I look forward to your blogs and enjoy the way you share your talents and family with us your readers.

  5. Dear sweet Paula…
    Thank you for sharing your journey. I am so sorry you are having to endure testing, treatments and that horrible “c” word! You have proven to be strong throughout and I have no doubt that you will continue to be strong through faith and good people around you. I pray for complete healing my friend! Continue to enjoy each day to its fullest…it is truly a gift from our awesome God! Big hugs & lots of prayer!🙏🏻💕

  6. Oh Paula…..
    I’ve been sitting here before I began typing because I want my words to be helpful, loving and heartfelt.
    When I read through this this morning I couldn’t stop myself from crying. You and I both know we come into this world not by some chance, but with a purpose. And we know we all will eventually die. I cannot say anything profound but I can say you have impacted my life…….I learned about Stitch Fix from you! I have al ong long story (we all do) but I don’t think as well of myself as I should. Through Stitch Fix I upped my wardrobe game and in doing so I felt much better. I have learned about other creative ladies blogs and visited them! It opened up a new avenue for me-we moved from CA to TN in 2016 and while my husband went to work I did not. I was very lonely and those blogs (and your’s) kept me company, thank you. I really enjoy your personality!!! You are your own person and you own it!!! So know that I am praying for you, Mr. SP and your journey. I believe God will indeed answer the prayers of those who believe; I believe and I will hold you up to Him. I’m scared too for you. As you said so well earlier, LIVE this day, these moments and smell/inhale/watch/taste and sit in the amazingness of it. Much Love to you Paula Colleen

  7. Hi Paula, Alright let’s get that pesky spot! Your entire treatment team sounds amazing and yoru advice for a 2nd opinion will help so many others in their journey following diagnosis. I just read Dr. Sheehan’s credentials. xo xo xo and hugs to Sherman and your husband. laura in Colorado.

  8. I am praying for you to have peace and calmness during your procedure, for your physician and the staff to perform the procedure to the best of their ability and for healing. Prayers for the Mr. and your family too ❤️..

  9. Paula! Bless you for sharing this. I know you’ve been very private about this and it’s amazing you were able to tell your story in such an inspirational way. I will definitely be praying for you! Xoxo

  10. Thank you for sharing your cancer journey with us. A very good friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer this pass February 2020. I wanted her to go to a cancer center that’s about 50 miles from us but she is staying with the clinic she started with. She takes Chemo. I wish there was some way she could read your story…. I think it would help inspire her!
    I am a Christian and Believe in the power of prayer. I have seen the answer to prayer many times!
    I enjoy your blogs and decorating.
    Blessings!

  11. Prayers for you. I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2018. Went through Chemo and had a Stem Cell Transplant from my brother. I h have been cancer free for 1-1/2 years. I have blood test every three months to be sure it has not come back. I know the tightrope you are talking about. I also have an excellent Doctor and staff at Ohio University Hospital. My family and my Church family has helped me through it. My God touch your body and mind through it all.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been praying for you since I learned of your diagnosis a few years ago, and I will continue to pray. You are strong and courageous, have a lot of support behind you, and have a skilled team of doctors. I wish you every good outcome posaible! Blessings! ❤

  13. Thank-you for sharing your story. You have an amazing support group and a cheering section the size of which you can’t imagine. Stay strong!

  14. Girlfriend, sending you all sorts of healing thoughts and prayers. I’m also sending you strength, but you have that in abundance! You are one tough cookie and there is no doubt you will beat this.

    Many hugs…Lynn

  15. Paula,

    Thank you for trusting us with your story. I will be lifting you up in prayer in the days ahead. You’ve got this and God’s got you!

    Big hugs friend!

  16. You have been in my thoughts and prayers since you shared your diagnosis and I’ll have you in my thoughts on the 30th as well. I have been blown away by your grace, courage, strength, and determination. Especially how blogging in of itself is a lot of work, and how you continue to share your talents here with us while enduring treatments. Sending hugs your way from Canada ❤️

  17. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Although I didn’t have cancer, I had a benign brain tumor called an Accoustic Neuroma in 2012. I had the Gamma Knife procedure then and it shrunk my tumor, I go for periodic MRI’s of my brain forever. I want to tell you not to worry about the halo and the screws, they will give you a local before they put the screws in for the halo. It is not bad at all, so try hard not to add that worry to your list. The one thing I will tell you, is once they take the halo off, you will have a pretty good headache, but that being said, you can take something for it and mine was gone within the half hour.
    Please know that you have my thoughts and prayers as you continue your journey. God bless you!

  18. Paula-
    Thank you for sharing this. I think if you and your battle each time I enjoy your posts on IG. I wonder how you are feeling and how is your health. You are so right about enjoying each day and appreciating the little things.
    Receiving a card from you during my recovery meant so much. Please know you are amazing! Don’t stop being positive. I used to work at UVA hospital and their MDs are up to date and are willing to try anything. I remember checking patients in for gamma knife over 20 years ago.
    YOU GOT THIS! Love and prayers-Crissie

  19. Hi Paula i think about you often and this has helped me realize what you have been through and how strong you are ‼️👍
    what amazing person you are‼️💕
    please know how much you are loved and i will continue to keep you in my Prayers and God is good he has got this for you sweet friend🙏
    much love and Prayers
    laura

  20. I didn’t want to read this at first. But I did because I wanted to read your update. All this time I thought you had been in remission and I’m sooo sorry I haven’t made an attempt to check in on you. I need to stop keeping too busy and check in on you! No excuses! I know these posts are tough to write, but at the same time bring some kind of healing – good therapy. I will lift you up in prayer and pray for a complete healing. That modern medicine is amazing! My daughter had her two brain surgeries at UVA Medical Center and although her neurosurgeon lacked bedside manner (he’s no longer at UVA but I’ll send you his name if you want it in a private message), the nursing staff and care she got was excellent! I am thankful though that her neurosurgeons did an excellent job as well and she’s back to living a normal life. The hospitality house there is also excellent although I believe you have to be at least 3 hours out to stay there. It’s still worth checking. I can send you that info too if you need it. Oh Paula, you’ve been through SO much these last few years. You still look good as always, I continue enjoy reading your posts and following you on Twitter and IG. Sherman has been such a great companion too! Our house has an offer, if all goes well we should be in LBurg by the end of September. Hubby might also be headed to UVA for some health issues as well, if we don’t run into you then, perhaps in LBurg, if C-19 calms down some. Here’s sending you humongous hugs, love and lots of prayers!!! -Bev

  21. Thanks for sharing your journey, Paula. You never know how this post may inspire someone who is walking in your shoes. Your strength and courage inspire me as you endure and press forward. You will continue to be in my prayers as you walk through new uncharted territory. May you feel God’s presence through every step of the way.

  22. Thanks for sharing your story, Paula. I can’t even imagine what you are going through but your strength and positive attitude will help so much. You are also so lucky to have the support of your family and friends. I will pray for you and send you positive vibes. Take care my dear friend!
    Shelley

  23. Hi Paula, I’ve never commented on your blog before but I enjoy reading it because I live in Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley to be exact which is just a few hours from SML. You are in a serious situation and honestly, I don’t want to be offensive but I’m going to be blunt, do you know Jesus? He loves you, died for your sickness and disease, He did that for all of us while we were yet sinners. He loves us as children. My prayer is that if you haven’t already, today you begin a relationship with Jesus. Romans 10:13 It’s actually quite simple.
    Sometimes Christians make God out to be some angry spiritual being that should take away all the problems in the world but He gave us free choice; hence, the problems we face in this world. But He didn’t leave us without a solution, He sent His Son. I pray you lean on Him and trust that He died for you and all mankind.
    Your words have power, they are seeds that bring a harvest. I pray today you begin to speak words of power over your situation such as ‘I am healed by the stripes of Christ.’ ‘I walk in health and wholeness.’ Even when the symptoms are still there, even before the doctor’s report changes- begin to speak these things over yourself. Doctor’s reports are facts but Truth (God’s Word) changes facts! I will be speaking words of health over you also. God Bless you!

  24. Thankyou for sharing your story today. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
    Praying right now. God is good.

  25. Thanks so much for sharing your story! Stay strong and have faith that “this too shall pass”. You’ve got this!

  26. Thanks for sharing your story…I am praying and hoping that all goes well and that you start to feel better very soon and that the rest of the tests are positive…I lost a best friend to lung cancer and I saw how she suffered.
    Again praying for you.

    Carol

  27. Hi Paula. I was unaware of your cancer battle being somewhat new to your blog. I can’t imagine what you have gone through. Am sending prayers your way. I have this thing I do, some may think it is bat-shit crazy but I feel it has kept me safe and healthy for many years. I imagine a white light surrounding me that protects me from harm and danger. I do this when traveling, have imagined it protecting friends during hurricane season and most lately protecting my family, friends and self during this Covid Pandemic. So I am sending you a White Light that will protect you and the surgical team during surgery. Hopefully and God willing the area will be removed.

    You bring us so much joy through your blog and look forward to future posts. And pictures of you and Sherman.

  28. Paula, thank you for sharing your journey. I and several other of our teacher friends have been careful to avoid saying too much to you about the cancer and have avoided asking many questions because we were afraid of invading your privacy. I think it’s not terribly unusual for caring friends to be that way. So, I’m sorry for not reaching out to you more regularly. I don’t know how you feel about getting together with friends because of COVID, but Maggie and I would love to see you when you feel comfortable doing so. And, you can count on our prayers. Please keep us posted when you get more news. Love and prayers. ❤️🙏🏻 Pam

  29. Paula,

    Hugs and prayers for you. You are so courageous and hope this surgery zaps the cancer. Love your blog. Take care and know that God is with you.

  30. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I know the waiting is horrible and trying to LIVE and not focus on “What if…?” is hard. I’m going for a whole body bone scan tomorrow. I have learned to ask lots of questions, read my reports, and lean on others to help. That last one was hard to learn. I’m praying for you, as I pray for myself and others.

  31. Paula…God Bless your cousin Amanda and her connection to the best possible oncologist for you!! I love seeing your best friend, Sherman by your side..I have always loved your posts and he manages to get in there 🙂 I will pray for good news regarding the procedure on the 30th. Thank you for this blog post. I’m positive it will help many people..your advise on getting a “second opinion” is solid! I’m off to make your frosty paws recipe for my girls!

    Thank you and God Bless,

    June

  32. Paula, I am so sorry you had to go through such a horrible ordeal with the first oncologist. Thank goodness you knew who to go to. I’m struggling with words, however I want you to know that I will be praying for the brain tumor to heal and for everything else to remain stable. I loved your little tips you added in and I took them all to heart. Please let us know how the results turn out. You are an amazing woman and your story will inspire many going through similar journeys. Good luck on the 30th! XO

  33. GOD BLESS YOU, PAULA. Absolute will be praying for you. Thank you for sharing this difficult story. My mother is also fighting cancer; her first rounds of treatment was difficult but bearable. However the aftermath has been worse than anything else. We too are hoping to change Oncologists; we fear the current provider is uniformed among other things. We weren’t even sure we could switch providers but you doing so makes me believe we can. YOU HANG IN THERE. So many people are praying for you, as am I. Be well.. Dawn.

  34. Paula, thank you for sharing your journey. I can’t imagine how difficult it is. I’m sending prayers and love and pray the procedure will go well so you can continue living your amazing life! 🙂

  35. Paula… As my hubby battles Stage4 Liver Failure and Heart Problems and I’m awaiting 2 Full Hip and 2 Full knee replacement surgerys and also have had 4 Back Surgery’s ,❤️reading your blog this past Winter and also hearing about your Cancer Battle has been Sooooo Inspiring to me and the people who have read your blogs and heard your story… My prayers are with you sweetie in your continuing Struggle 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏… Your going to BEAT this!!!
    Love, Cathryn from Utah

    1. Pauka,

      I’m at a loss for words, actually my breath got taken away. I’m sorry you had to go through such a horrible ordeal. I will being praying for your up coming surgery and recovery.

      You have amazing strength sharing your story with all your readers.

      Cindy

  36. I’m praying for you, Paula! A lung cancer diagnosis for a non-smoker is just not fair. I’m so glad you decided to write about your most recent test results. I know the blogging community will lift you up in prayer and not allow you to go through this journey alone.

  37. Ive been praying for you and your family since your diagnosis and will continue. Thank-you for sharing your journey. I hope the surgery goes well for you and you receive good news.

  38. Sending you hugs and prayers. Was not following you at time of first story so never knew. I am a retired R.N. I know you are dreading the halo and screws, but they will keep your head and spine stable and maximize your results. I will pray that you have no pain or anxiety. My father also died of lung cancer. My siblings and I have always feared that it would catch up with us. Your blogs have been so much fun to see, and I am looking forward to seeing them continue. Again, prayers from a little Tennessee Methodist girl.

  39. Cancer treatments have changed since 1999 when I had stage 3 breast cancer. Some of the side effects are the same but I believe that medical advances have improved the chances of survival significantly. A positive attitude is so important along with the support of family and friends. I am praying for you as you continue your journey. We are not just cancer survivors we are cancer thrivers.

  40. Paula please know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers . Never give up hope. I understand how emotionally hard this is as I went through this with my husband . You are on my prayer list every day. Love to you and your family .

  41. I’ve been so impressed by your positivity and strength, Paula. Especially after reading more about everything you’ve been going through. Send you lots of love and healing thoughts for your surgery.

  42. I have often wondered.how you’ve been making out, and was hoping no news is good news. I am so very sorry to hear there have been such struggles and such scares i sincerely sincerely hope for the best outcome and am sending good thoughts and support to you.

  43. Hey Paula! I only just “met” you in KariAnne’s group and have just read your posts about your journey. I’m so sorry that this is the path you’re having to travel. Thank you for your honesty and know that I will be praying for you! I believe the doctor performing your surgery is the same one who treated my father-in-law several years ago at UVA. He is wonderful! And so good at what he does. Sending you prayers for peace, courage, and strength, and prayers for your doctor to guide his hands on Thursday. And now sending a big virtual hug!

  44. Thank you for sharing Paula. So glad you got a second opinion. I have you covered in prayer as do many others. Prayer can work miracles. I have faith that your surgery will be successful. Blessings to you.

  45. Thank you for sharing your story. Since I met you last year and learned about your cancer diagnosis, I have continued to pray for you and your family. Wishing you continued strength, positivity, and love during this time. xo

  46. Dear Paula,
    I wish you much success in your fight against cancer. I, too, have experienced breast cancer and fully understand when you said you passed out at the diagnosis. I will pray for you and think of you would I care for my sweet pea vines, one of my favorite flowers. You are an inspiration, and your suggestions for supporting a friend with cancer are much needed.

  47. Paula, I simply could not read this post earlier today. My heart aches for the trials and scares that you’ve faced over the past few years. You are one tough cookie and your positivity will get you through your upcoming procedure. I will be praying HARD for you. In the meantime, I’m squeezing you with a great big virtual hug.

  48. Paula, I am the praying kind, and I will certainly be praying for you. I have great faith in UVA. They have helped me tremendously, and I think you are in great hands. I read your doctor’s credentials., and you are in very capable hands-his and God’s. You are going to beat this. Sherman needs his hiking companion.

  49. You have wonderful doctors and all the miracle drugs, but the most important asset you have is Jesus Christ. Keep on your path and God bless you.

  50. Paula thank you for sharing your journey. I am the praying kind and will be praying for you, your procedure and the doctors. And for healing your body. Sending hugs and peace your way.

  51. Paula,
    Thank you so much for the update. I’m so happy you found new docs at UVA. My dad had more gamma-knife treatments then anyone. I’m happy you will be treated with that. He is written about now in medical books everywhere. You have always been in my eyes, a woman of such strength. I’ve been secretly envious of your drive and physical discipline for a decade now…. because I’m such a milk-weed wimp. I’m sorry if I haven’t expressed that earlier to you. You are so amazingly talented, an awesome blogger, a good friend anyone can trust and a role model. Please know that I will continue praying for healing over your body and for your hubby too. XOXO ~ KIM

  52. Dear Paula,
    Thank you for sharing such a difficult story. I pray that you do well in the future.
    Your blog is beautiful and I enjoy it so much. Thanks for all the effort you put into it.
    Wishing you, your husband and family peace and blessings.

  53. You are a brave woman, with a strong soul, and an inspiration,specially for anyone needing an attitude adjustment from much less stressful situations. I hope there are many more summers of boat rides, hikes and sunsets for you.

  54. Paula, thank you so much for sharing this with us. I can understand how hard this was to write about, let alone to go through. I hope the upcoming treatment goes well and I’ll be sending you healing vibes. You are an amazing person and I so admire your strength and courage!

  55. Look how many people love you! And that’s not even close to the love our Lord has for you! I’m praying for your healing, and that you would bring much glory to Him through this journey! I pray that you will grow close to Him and be comforted through His Word, too! I’m here for you, girl!

  56. Hi Paula

    Thank you for sharing your story. I will pray for you and put you on our prayer list at church. With God all things are possible. I know you will get through this.

  57. I’ve often wondered how you were doing, but hated to mention it. I’ve enjoyed your blog for a long while. I’ll be praying for you
    God’s got this. Sending hugs, Rhonda Godwin

  58. Paula, I’m so sorry because I didn’t realize you had been dealing with all this for so long. You’re an amazing person, talented, and an inspiration to so many. I’ll be praying for you, the procedure, and your doctors. Love you sweet friend! Hugs ❤️🙏🏻

  59. Paula, I am so sad to read the news about your brain met. Lots of prayers for you this week on the procedure and that it zaps that spot away and everything else stays stable.

    I really hate the unfortunate reason that our paths crossed, but I am very grateful that we have been able to connect online through our blogs. You’ve been so great to talk to as I start this horrible journey.

    I’m also glad and thankful that we both had blessings in our lives that led us to UVA and that we share the same amazing oncologist and team there. They really are truly amazing! After also having a bad experience when I was initially diagnosed at a different hospital, it makes a world of difference.

    You’ll be in my prayers!

  60. Hey Paula, i want you to know u are in my prayers. We have an awesome healer named JESUS. He LOVES his children so much & WANTS none of them to perish. call on him as he hears our prayers. GOD BLESS U

  61. Paula, I am lifting you and the medical team up in prayer. I am so sorry you are having to go through this. Thank you for sharing your journey it has taken so much courage to fight and to share your experiences. I have enjoyed reading your blog at the blog parties.
    Love and prayers,
    Kippi

  62. Paula you are so strong and I will be praying for you on the 30th! I am so glad that we have become blogging friends and I want you to know I am so inspired for you and will be cheering you on! Thanks for sharing your story!

  63. Sending prayers and looking forward to good news after the 30th. I’ve read your blog for so many years. You are an inspiration – diy skills, fashion, decor, and cancer kicker. You’ve got this!

  64. Paula, I responded on Facebook that I didn’t know about her fight with cancer. As I began to read your original post, it all came back to me. I remembered us sitting in the hotel lobby at Haven last year and talking about tennis and why you weren’t playing anymore. It all came back to me. I’m in awe of your determination in this fight. God has brought you this far and I can’t imagine that he would not see you back to wholeness. You are so brave and strong. A real inspiration to everyone around you. You have always been so supportive of me and I want to do the same for you. I pray for your doctors and nurses and your family. You have a wonderful team around you and hundreds of people holding you up. My thoughts are with you sweet friend. Hugs always.

  65. Thank you for the update Paula. While I’m sure it is difficult for you to share this, I’m so glad that you did. I’ll definitely be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as you undergo this next treatment. It’s sad that friendship groups change when you can no longer participate, but you know you always have your online friends from all around the globe at your finger tips. Sending you a big hug sweetie xx

  66. I am so sorry you have to go through this. My aunt and cousin have lung cancer now, and my grandpa lost his battle after a few years (he was in his 70s at the time). You will always be in my thoughts and prayers!!! Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sure it was difficult.

  67. Thanks you for sharing your journey, Paula. As a long-time reader, I remember that first post and have since marveled at your ability to still create a beautiful home and blog while walking that tightrope. You are an inspiration. I will be praying for you (I AM the praying type). I will pray for your healing. I will also pray for peace and comfort for you and your family as you go through this journey together.

  68. Paula, you most certainly will be lifted up in my prayers, as will Dr. Sheehan, and his entire team with you, esp on Thursday. I’ll also be praying for your family – your husband, mama, Sherman. You’ve shown incredible bravery already with your chronology, and your express desire to continue living will no doubt be a huge part of your recovery and continued well-being. Thank you so much for sharing this. I watched the entire video. I’m so glad you’ll be at the center of expertise at UVA. Your photos of SML have a sense of calming throughout this post. No doubt that imagery will be part of your skillset in channeling calm. I’ll pray you tolerate the halo with ease. xo

  69. Paula…as I’ve mentioned before…i am a breast cancer survivor and my husband also has non small cell lung cancer. The one thing I’ve noticed both during my journey and his is the number of people battling that have always put their health first both by diet and exercise yet they still got cancer. Cancer does not descriminate. I have not watched my diet since my journey because I am despressed and have severe anxiety and feel like it makes no difference. I am wrong BTW so I’m not defending bad choices. You have to be strong physically and mentally in order to put up a good fight and you can only get strong with a good diet and exercise and with God of course. Any movement is good…so just do what your body allows. I just want you to know that I understand all the feelings one could have during such a diagnosis and I also want you to know that I am a firm believer in prayer and I will continue to keep you in my prayers for healing…strength and peace in Jesus name. Amen.

  70. You are such and inspiration. I don’t know you, but I feel like I do. Stay strong. You’re a lovely woman.

  71. Praying for you, Paula. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that it touches those fighting the similar battles. Blogging is a sweet community.

  72. Paula, I’m so sorry that you have had to deal with this horrible diagnosis. You are on a long journey, for sure, and have been a great soldier in the battle. I will be praying for you this week. I’m so glad you have a competent team to work with; they sound like the team we’ve got for my mom’s ALS…it helps so much to know you’re in good hands. So glad you’ve got IRL friends to uphold you and have the online blogging community, too. Heal and rest, dear friend!

  73. Paula, thank you for your openness and vulnerability! I’m embarrassed to say until now I didn’t know you were facing and fighting this battle – but now I know and I am the praying type, so am lifting you up daily. We have a dear friend who is also being treated for a very similar cancer and it’s been excruciating to watch all he’s going through, especially since he was diagnosed as COVID hit. Yet it’s been an honor to walk through this journey with he and his sweet family. Know that you are loved and cared for, may you experience more life, love, care throughout this journey — especially praying for the halo, I don’t blame you for being concerned, but it sure sounds like you are in the best of hands. Love, prayers and loads of hope to you!

  74. Paula, with all the prayers from sooo many of us for you and your recovery, that “C” cannot possibly stand a chance of surviving in your head!!! You have been an inspiration to all of us while in this fight and we will continue to support and pray for you to beat this one, too! Sending love and prayers…

  75. Paula
    I’ve been following your blog for awhile and had no idea about the cancer – I’ll send some good prayers and wishes from Utah

  76. You are amazing! I think of you often, and I’m so glad you posted an update. It seems like you are in excellent hands, and I will keep you in my prayers that your next step is successful and that your body keeps fighting as it has for the past three years. Big hugs, my friend. ❤️

  77. Pauly, I think of you all the time and each time I say a prayer. Especially praying now for your new treatment to work a healing miracle. Love and prayers for you!
    Love,
    Debbie

  78. Paula, I will be praying for you (just did and will continue!). It’s tough to get older anyway and then to have an illness.

    I hope your surgery goes smoothly,
    Love and hugs,
    Barb <3

  79. Paula, I will be praying for your procedure and quick recovery. I’m so sorry you are going through all this but I’m thankful you kicked that horrible doctor to the curb. Having good friends and family around, along with a fighting attitude is key ❤

    If you consider alternative treatments at all look into RSO Oil, it’s made from marijuana and is really potent but lots of people have heart success with it treating and curing summer cancers.

    God Bless!

  80. Thinking of you and will pray that all goes well with your procedure. You are such an incredibly strong person! I was treated for breast cancer 3 years ago, and was nowhere near as strong as you. It’s wonderful that you have been so great about staying physically fit and active – I am sure that’s good for both the body and mind. Thanks for sharing your story – your spirit and strength are truly inspirational. Life can be so tough. I am sorry you have had to struggle with all this. Life can throw some curveballs.

  81. Hi, you have been through a lot to say the least. I have enjoyed following you on instagram. I have enjoyed watching your remodeling at the lake ,your stitch fix (thinking about that for myself, because of you) I am sorry you have to have this procedure but sure sounds like you are in very capable hands. I wish you the best. Thanks for your honesty and positivity.

  82. I am praying for you dear friend! My mom died of lung cancer, so I get a horrible ache in my heart whenever I read that someone has the diagnosis! I’m so thankful for modern medicine and the treatment advances that have been made! Stay strong and know you are in good hands! I’m subscribing now, so I don’t miss any updates. xo

  83. I have been praying for you since you first shared about your cancer on your blog. I am a Christian and I believe in the power of prayer. I am praying that God will heal you this side of heaven. You, your husband, and your mom will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.
    I am taking your words of wisdom to heart and trying to live life to the fullest each moment of every day. You are such an inspiration to me.

  84. Oh, Paula. Thank you for sharing this. I know it must have been extremely difficult to write. I’m glad not only for the many others who may benefit from learning about your experience but also so I can be a better friend to you and pray for you as you undergo this procedure. We’ve lived through cancer with family members, and I can only imagine the pain and anxiety you’re going through. I’ll be thinking of you and praying God’s hands will guide your doctors. Please know you are loved.

  85. Thinking of you dearly today and hope that the procedure went smoothly. Both Jeff and I are thinking of you and in our prayers for a speedy recovery. You are a very brave and strong woman with courage to share your story!

  86. Praying for you during this time, you are strong and can handle this! I’ve read your blog for a few years now and always enjoy your posts.
    I am a cancer survivor and still get scans 6 years later and understand the anxiety over waiting on scan results.
    Stay strong!
    Karen

  87. I remember when you first posted about your diagnosis three years ago and I’m reading this post on the day of your procedure. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  88. Darling Paula, I am so sorry to hear about the met site in your brain. . . but SO GRATEFUL to know you can have gamma knife surgery! Praise the Lord for this.

    I’m so glad you gave an update here. I’ve often wondered how you’re doing. You are such a strong and beautiful woman. I want to know you here on earth for many years to come! Love you.

  89. Paula, I’m praying for you! I pray that the spot on your brain will be completely eradicated. I’m also praying for grace and peace for you and your husband as you continue to fight this disease.

  90. Your journey through this shows how much courage and resolve you have. Your strength is evident through your words here. Praying for positive results from your latest procedure and continued healing for you.

  91. Hey dear friend. I know I already left a comment here, but I wanted to thank you for writing this post and linking it to the Grace at Home party. I’m featuring it this week, because I want more people to read it and be encouraged by you. You’re my hero! Love you.

  92. Paula I am crying and inspired by your story. As you know I live with serious chronic illness, it has been debilitating for the last 15 years and I lost all of my “friends.” God gave me new ones in the blog world 🙂

    I live with chronic pain daily and I know how it wears you down. But, I have been close to death a couple of times with Lyme disease and I have also experienced much supernatural healing that has gotten me through the lowest points. I believe in the power of prayer, and will be lifting your name up to the great physician! I believe you will overcome!

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I am here if you ever want to give me a call just to complain when you feel alone.

    Gentle hugs!

  93. Paula,
    I’ve been following your blog for quite some time. I’m amazed at your courage and the courage of your family. I work in health care ( I’m a medical librarian) and have for many years. It’s amazing what medicine can do nowadays. Know I am praying for you and yours daily. I work in a faith-based hospital in SoCal and your name is on more than one prayer lists. I know you’ll stay strong. I’m envisioning you surrounded in a white healing light. Luv,

    Mary E. Osborne
    San Pedro, CA

  94. Paula,
    I admire your strength and perseverance….I am going through a serious health problem right now, and I’m glad I read this post, It has helped calm my thoughts a little, and remember to deal with one day at a time….and a reminder to have the best advocates and doctors in your corner 😉
    Thank you for sharing, you are in my prayers 🙂

  95. Paula, I haven’t checked your blog in a while, so I didn’t know about your cancer journey. So sorry. I am a native of VA and UVA is very familiar. I am a 31 year breast cancer survivor. I had moved to a new city, didn’t know anyone and the surgeon was so horrible. If that wasn’t bad enough, he had another patient contact me. She made me cry.
    At that point I called my old doctor and he put me with a wonderful surgeon.While I was in a state of confusion, I had surgery four times in five weeks. I had chemo and radiation from a nerdy oncologist. The oncologist I was suppose to see was on vacation and that might have been a good thing.
    Visualization is important. Mostly, I refused to go. After all these years, my CA 27-29 is really high and they don’t know why. They check and can’t find anything, so I keep on keeping on.
    Thank goodness you got a second opinion. It’s hard to decide anything when the hamster wheel is turning.
    Keep the faith. Looks like a lot of friends care about you. Me too.

  96. Hi, Larissa sent us over to show you some love so here I am. I’m praying that the treatment in December is a success. You are a very strong woman. I lost my daughter in May to stage 4 colon cancer and after reading hour blog I am. Convinced that she could have stayed with us longer if she would have gotten a second opinion and a better oncologist. After her diagnosis she only lived a year, leaving 2 babies behind. I hate to say this about my beloved daughter but she gave up. She quit trying . I will be praying for you and you keep fighting sis. You can do this.
    With love
    Cheryl

    1. I so much appreciate your support, Cheryl. I am so very sorry that you lost your precious daughter to colon cancer.

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