Living with Stage 4 Lung Cancer – January 2022 Update

In my last cancer update, I shared that I would start a clinical trial in January and have chemo to tide me over until the trial begins.

Like I usually do when I post a cancer update, I’m including pictures of living my best life.

Winnie the Poo Haybale Art
Winnie the Poo Haybale Art in Huddleston, VA designed by Beth Bays.

January 13th was my five-year cancerversary. When I was diagnosed in 2017 January 13th was Friday the 13th. I am so grateful to still be here.

The first two chemo sessions went well and I noticed an improvement in both my balance and the hearing in my right ear.

Sherman Skulina
Sweet Sherman turned nine on January 13. Our friend sent us this for Christmas. Check out her Etsy shop here.

The third chemo session wasn’t as easy. Two days after the infusion, I was on the sofa with no energy and having a hard time eating anything other than pureed soup or yogurt.

Canine Cellmates
A former student sent me this Canine Cellmates sweatshirt. They use shelter dogs to teach inmates how to be a dog trainer.

After a week, I went back to UVA for an infusion of liquids which make me feel slightly better.

Snow at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia
Snow at the lake.

Two weeks after the chemo, I finally felt good enough to do a few things around the house.

Building a Firepit at Smith Mountain Lake
Mr. SP and our neighbor, Don, have been hard at work building a firepit at the lake.

My friend, Lesley, is a dietician and she has been trying to get me to drink Boost since my radiation in April and May. I finally gave it a try and actually enjoy it. It is much easier for me to drink 360 calories rather than eat 360 calories.

Building a Firepit at Smith Mountain Lake

This week I found out that I won’t be able to start the clinical trial until February which is disappointing and it means that I will have to endure at least one more chemo session.

I’m not worrying over it because it is out of my control and I will do what I have to do to stay alive.

Building a Firepit at Smith Mountain Lake

Mama had her surgery and it went very well. She’s now staying with her sister until she is ready to go home.

I am so grateful for my aunt and her daughter for taking such good care of Mama. Amanda, my cousin, is my brain oncologist’s nurse and she also takes amazing care of me.

Fingers crossed that I will get to start the trial in early February.

To all of you who have sent good vibes, support, and prayers to Mama and me, thank you so much.

147 Comments

    1. I am in wonder of your attitude. I know its a struggle to maintain a positive one. You and your mother are in my prayers. Keep fighting, You both will make it!!

  1. Big hug to you Paula. Glad for you that boost is helping you. Stunning painting of Sherman, stunning. And, you and Dave and Sherman in front of the hay art was adorable.
    💞🙏
    Sarah

  2. I am sorry you are delayed with starting the trial.

    Your attitude is so inspiring as you walk this difficult path.

    Thank you for sharing. I am praying for you.

    Rachel

  3. 2021 was a tough year for you and your Mama, but you demonstrated grace and strength through it. Your determination to continue living your best life really inspires me. I’m glad you can tolerate and even like drinking Boost. I don’t know the reason why your clinical trial has been delayed, but I’ll continue praying you tolerate the chemo until it begins. Good news on your Mama’s front too.
    That portrait of Sherman is amazing. I thought it was a photo! And Mr SP’s fireplace is going to be amazing too. KY son-in-law did something similar during the 2020 Covid stay-at-home in their city lot. They call it the Brickyard.

  4. Paula, thank you for sharing your journey. Your positive outlook is an inspiration. Sending prayers for you and your Mama, and the health professionals and caregivers who are taking care of you.

  5. That fire pit area is going to be amazing! I was going to suggest a drink that I made for my mom. Put some vanilla ice cream ( I used the small individual cups by Bluebell) into a blender along with the Boost or Ensure. Put in a few spoonfuls of PB powder and mix it all together. Makes a nice thick milkshake! Hugs and prayers.

    1. Thank you so much for the milkshake suggestion. I am going to pick up some peanut butter powder today so that I can start drinking the milkshakes as soon as possible. I now weigh 5 pounds less than Sherman, so I need all of the calories that I can get.

  6. Paula, as always, I am praying for you and pray that your trial will begin in February.
    I pray that between now and then you will be able to tolerate the chemo session better this time and remain stronger. Living our best life is what we all should be doing. You are a true example. I remember your mom always and glad she is doing better. What a blessing for a family that takes care of each other.

  7. That sucks the trial has been delayed. I’m betting it’s likely due to COVID. While I believe COVID is serious and we should move with caution, I also think there are a lot of people who aren’t getting the services needed (like life-saving or life-extending clinical trials) because of it. Hopefully it starts up in February. I’ll be waiting to hear about it. Will you have to travel for it, or will it be in your area? Also, that lake house would be divine! Especially with the fire pit. Love the retaining wall around it! Take care, Paula!

    1. The clinical trial is in Fairfax, so it is very doable. The first month I will have to go every week and some of the visits are two days in a row. The firepit project is thrilling! I can’t wait to get to enjoy it.

  8. Prayers and great thoughts for both you and your mom. I’m glad you’re able to go out and enjoy the world while doing your treatments.

    Happy birthday to Sherman too.
    Hugs!

  9. I pray for strength and peace. Having had breast cancer 3x and fast growing uterine cancer once , I totally understand the chemo dread. I had it all 4x. But God…He got me through it all. You are a strong and adventurous young woman. You can do it Praying for you and great things to take place

  10. I look forward to your posts and marvel that you have the determination and strength to continue your blog. You are inspiring and wishing you the best .

  11. God bless you..you’ve been through so much. I’m a VIRGINIAN, too..and will earnestly continue to pray for you and your family.

  12. Oh sweetie, I am so sorry that your trial was delayed. Your are so courageous and amazing. I keep you always in my prayers. So blessed to have met you at Haven. I will continue to lift you in prayer.

  13. Keeping you and your mom in my prayers. I am so sorry for the delay with starting the clinical trial. Sometimes things happen for a reason and maybe this is one of those times. A quick story about my cancer journey. I was seeing an oncologist for several years; she had treated me during my first bout with BC. When it returned in my chest wall, I made an appointment to see her. While waiting for my appointment, I did tons of research and learned I had triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) and there weren’t many treatments available. The day of my appointment came and I waited and waited and waited for over an hour to see the doctor. I kept asking when I would be seen and no explanation of the delay was given. Finally, I just walked out and decided to find another doctor. Called a doctor in Dallas I read treated TNBC but she was not taking new patients. Her nurse referred me to another doctor in their group and that is where my journey began with two of the most wonderful doctors (oncologist and radiologist) in the world. The chemo/radiation protocol was very different than what I was told would be with my previous doctor. When discussing this with other TNBC friends, they had never heard of the drugs or having radiation at the same time. Long story short – here I am 14 years later, thanks to Our Dear Lord and my earth angel oncologist, free of BC. I have always believed there was a God-given reason why I wasn’t able to see my previous oncologist that day. Perhaps there is a reason for the delay that will be of tremendous benefit to you. Only God knows, and I do believe in miracles. Praying for one for you, sweet Paula.

    1. Oh yes, 100%. There was divine intervention happening in your life.

      Paula, I can’t tell you how much I hate that you are going through this. But I know God is using you to help and inspire others. And you are doing it! Everyday! I’ve always heard that you really get to know who a person is when they are going through something tough. We ALL see who are you. I also know that God is preparing you for even more things. Love you girl! So honored to know you.

  14. Thank you so much for the update, Paula. So glad you are navigating through and adding things that make you feel better. You are continually in my thoughts and prayers. Praying that you begin the trial at the perfect time with great results. Your attitude is always an inspiration to all of us. Much love and hugs to you.

  15. Continued prayers for you and your mom. Your strength and positive attitude will get you through this! Take care, dear friend.
    Shelley

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers and support, Terri. I am so happy that you will soon add a grandson to your family.

  16. You are such an inspiration! Your mama, too! Prayers always for you both, and the medical team that takes such good care of you! Sherman’s portrait is awesome! I need to save my pennies so I can get one done of Keke, my little rescue terrier. Enjoy the snow! Texas seldom gets it!! Big Hugs, Stephanie

  17. Thanks for letting g us In on your health update. You have an amazing attitude that teaches us all how to Live our Best Life! Something we should always be doing. Praying your delay will turn around!
    Hugs and many prayers to you and your Mom.

  18. I agree with every comment above. Keep pressing Paula. Find a way to get more calories to keep your energy up while you wait for the trial to begin. You are in my thoughts daily and you are an inspiration for so many. love to all give Sherman a hug from Chloe and Elliott, laura in Colorado

  19. You are an inspiration to so many! Your zest for life, and positive attitude is amazing! I was talking to a woman who had had stage 3 cervical cancer and started a trial after chemo was devastating to her. 5 years later she is still in remission and is beautiful!! My prayer for you!!! Hang in, so many prayers are lifted in your name!

  20. I’m sorry to hear that your clinical trial has been delayed and that the chemo is causing troublesome times. As always, I continue to pray for God’s healing and love your “happy” posts. Your positive attitude and courage are amazing. I miss you and the fun we used to have at MMS. Love and Hugs to you, Dave, Sherman and your mom. Prayers are a given!

  21. So sorry to hear the news about your trial, but you’ve got this!! I admire your strength and your positive attitude! Lots of prayers coming your way!! I enjoyed seeing all of your pictures! Those hay bales are so adorable, and that fire pit is going to be amazing!

  22. Continued daily prayers for you and your mama Paula…
    we serve an awesome loving God and he is with us at all times. And thru everything we do and think and pray. He never leaves us. He knows are hearts desires and he comforts us in times of mental and physical turmoil.
    Hugs and prayers…will continue.

  23. My mother was a lung cancer patient at the time there was “nothing they could do” as we were told. Radiation to only shrink her tumor. She lived a year with it and honestly, all glory goes to the Lord because she wasn’t very bad considering. She practically lived on Boost and loved it. When I see it in the store I think of her. That’s been 18 years ago and I’m so thankful that God has supplied us with doctors and new treatments for this ugly stuff. I’m a five year BC survivor and take a chemo pill daily to keep it at bay. We do what we have to do to beat this. I think of you often and my prayers are with you. And I truly believe what happens (delays, etc) are all in His control. Sending love, hope and lots of prayers!

  24. You are Amazing!!!!! Keeping you in my nightly prayers “Always”. Love reading your blog. Hugs from cold Wisconsin.

  25. Paula, you are a warrior!!! Every obstacle and barrier that have been thrown your way, YOU have have overcome!!! Keep your eye on the prize!!! Continued prayers for you and your Mom!!! Love ya!!!

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers and support, Bev. I am already looking forward to our MMS reunion this summer at the lake.

  26. Paula, you are an amazing inspiration to all. The snow at the lake is beautiful and so peaceful. The milkshake recipe sounds like something Sherman would like too..minus the Boost ;)…similar to the Frosty Paws recipe you shared so long ago!
    Happy Birthday to sweet Sherman!! Love, love, love the painting of him! What a thoughtful gift from your friend!
    Praying you tolerate chemo better in the coming weeks, until you can start the trial in February, and that you will respond well to those treatments.
    Thank you for the update on your dear Mama…so glad to hear shes well taken care of until she can return home!
    Blessing and Prayers,
    June G

  27. Ashlyn and I are praying hard for you. I am so sorry that things have been delayed. Glad your mom’s surgery went well. You are in our thoughts all the time. Your fight and will during this time are so inspiring. You are one tough cookie! Love you!!

  28. Oh my soul, you are living a battle Paula, but you are facing it with such grace. Your mama gave you a boat load of spunk, because clearly she too knows her way on the battlefield. We have a young lady here that is dealing with stage 4C, but due to the unvaccinated COVIDiots filling up our hospitals, her surgery has been deemed “non-life-threating”, and has been delayed once again, so more rounds of chemo for her. She too has an unending motivation to kick this to the curb come what may. Her faith, like yours, is powerful.
    Your positivity serves you well. I will continue to pray for healing for both you and your mom, as well, I will pray for your husband. My sweet husband so often says, “it’s harder to watch the one you love struggle, than it is to struggle yourself,” and boy has he seen a lot. Surrounding yourself with love and beauty is the key, and the unconditional love of a beloved dog is a gift beyond measure. It seems much of our lives run in parallel. Our lake home too is a place of serenity, but today it is -21C, cold enough to freeze your skin in 10 minutes, yet it is still so beautiful. Nellie, our sweet, funny rough collie/golden is my ever present companion and she always knows when to nudge in just a bit closer when I need it most. Blessing Paula.
    Thinking of you fondly,
    Carol

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers and support, Carol. I laughed out loud when I read COVIDiots. I hope your young friend can soon get her surgery.

  29. I am so sorry about the delay in the trial. You inspire everyone with your courage and determination. Praying for you and your mama always.
    Suzanne

  30. Sweet Paula,

    I’m sorry for the delay in the trial. You know I believe you are incredibly strong. You are truly my hero. I pray this trial happens in February. I will continue praying for you and your mama.

    Hugs,
    Cindy

  31. Your positivity shines through the dark days keeping your chin up and your heart and mind strong. Our prayers and thoughts to you both every day for strength and courage. Keep up the Boost – it is good stuff! Thank you for displaying the link to the storefront! Much appreciated!!! Sherman is rockin’ at 9 years old and so cute seeing his pup pictures again! Time flies! Be well, prepare for the snow that’s about to come and snuggle up by a warm fireplace! Thinking of you!!

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers and support, Lisa. The snow just started and it is so pretty. I hope that many pet owners will order a print of their fur baby. I can’t wait to get it framed.

  32. Prayers for your ingoing recovery. I’ve sat in those infusion chairs at VA Baptist/Centra when I got an iron infusion. I have lousy veins and iron shots are hell on me. I still have a big black bruise from over a year and a half ago, Please be careful and stay safe and warm through the storm! I’m in Bedford County and we’re getting it, too! I just pray the ice stays away.

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers and support, Mary. I am sorry that your iron shots are so hard on you. It just started snowing here and it is so pretty.

  33. Sorry to hear the third treatment was so tough on you, Paula, and I hope there are no more delays for the clinical trial to start. In the meantime, enjoy that lake view…Spring will be here in no time at all!

  34. You and your dear family, including wonderful Sherman, are in my heart, Your faith is amazing and the Lord is with you, your MAMA, Mr. SP, Sherman, and all the rest of us who love you dearly.

  35. Your positive attitude is surely the greatest medicine you could have throughout this ordeal. Sending you and your mother positive thoughts and prayers for strength and healing, Suzanne.

  36. Paula, I am sorry your trial has been delayed. I have you on my prayer list and think of you and your mom every times a post comes up in my feed. Your attitude and fight, all the while living life is amazing. Stay positive friend and know that so many are praying for you. On a side note: your fire pit looks beautiful, it will be a wonderful place to gather with friends and family.

  37. I don’t you if you will remember me, but I saw your blog last spring, and I wrote you an email because we had a lot in common. I qm a former teacher, and at a young age I became very sick with cancer. Anyway, I couldn’t really eat much of anything, so my doctors put in a g-tube. Then insurance started covering a special kind of food that goes into the g-tube directly into your stomach. Today, you can get a “button” instead. This is where there us a small piece that has a closure attached to you stomach. When you need to eat you easily attach the little tube to it that you put the food through. The good thing about this food is it is meant for situations like cancer, so it has gentle and has the nutrients you need. A nutritionist can recommend the kind of food that would be best for you. I like Kate Farms because it is USDA organic, and it comes in flavors if you want to drink it. I was getting really underweight too until this. I am very glad I decided to get it. It sounds like this could help. My thoughts are with you. You are obviously a strong and courageous woman!

  38. I pray for you whenever I see your lovely and full-of-life posts. You have a beautiful heart and I wish you all blessings.

  39. Thank you for the update Paula, before you know it Feb will be here! Sending continued prayers and positive thoughts! Happy Birthday to Sherman! He’s such a beautiful dog that sure loves you! I can see this by the way he is with you!

  40. I’m amazed that you can keep up with your blogging. I hope that blogging is a good way to keep doing something normal in the midst of al the stress of life.
    It looks like your husband is standing right beside you. Be thankful for a good man who stays through thick and thin. Sometimes we take those people for granted.

    Thank you so much for coming by the Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop and contributing!
    Blessings,
    Laurie
    Ridge Haven Homestead

    1. Blogging gives me purpose and keeps me busy which I so much appreciate. My husband is wonderful. I am a lucky woman.

  41. Paula, as I continue to care about and pray for both you and your Mama, I have only to believe, in my heart and always in my God, that the reason for the delay can only be a good one. Not easy for me to say except for having my belief and that this will be in your favor. Your continued strength during this terribly difficult time only proves that your willingness to survive and endure what you have already, will help you get through until February. Praying for you during these next chemo rounds…love and hugs to you, your husband and your Mama…

  42. Visiting from Ridge Haven Homestead’s Blog Hop. I read your 2017 “Curveball” post, too, and I liked the rainbow appearance. Definitely a sign of hope and energy.
    You sound exactly like your name, sweet pea, and a tough one – as in strong – at that.
    Sending positive vibes all across the Atlantic Ocean. (I live in Switzerland)

  43. You are surrounded by the right people who love you and look out for you. The pushback on starting the clinical trial is disappointing but you will get there. Prayers for you and your mom.

  44. Very sorry to hear about the delay in joining the trail. And having to endure another chemo session. You’re brave and strong and have the most amazing outlook. I love the patio and firepit progress. Thinking of you and praying for February to get here as quickly as possible. xo

  45. Oh, Paula….I’m so sorry to hear of your recent passing. 🙁 I hope that you were able to enjoy some of that amazing fire pit seating area you’d mentioned. You were a talented creator. And while you won’t physically be here, the amazing content you put out for people to create beautiful homes and meals will live on forever, along with your spirit, and that is something that makes me smile. 🙂 Your content will create amazing memories for other people to enjoy. You’ve left your mark in the DIY world, and for the students you taught, as well as for your family and friends. Rest in power.

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