Living with Stage Four Lung Cancer – November 2021 Update

The ups and downs of the cancer roller coaster continue.

Lately, my balance has gotten worse and so has the hearing in my right ear. These symptoms match up with the results from my latest brain MRIs. My spine MRI showed new leptomeningeal disease spots that weren’t there when I had tests in September.

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

Dog with his mom and grandmother
Sherman enjoying a hike with his Mama and grandmother at Smith Mountain Lake State Park.

In my October cancer update, I told you about a clinical trial that I planned to join in Boston that I was scheduled to start the trial in mid-November.

That plan changed when a new trial in Fairfax that targets my cancer mutation was announced. I am visiting the Fairfax clinic next week to learn more about this study which will start in late December.

Dog with fall foliage at Smith Mountain Lake, VA

At my recent doctor appointments, it was decided that until the trial opens I will need chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy will be every three weeks and I should start it next week.

Sherman Skulina
Hiking in Wyoming

If the trial does indeed start at the end of December, I should only have to do two rounds of chemo.

Hiking in the Grand Tetons
Hiking in the Grand Tetons

The doctors know exactly how to manage the side effects of the chemo and the only side effect that I will have is fatigue.

I’m hoping that the chemo will halt or even improve both my balance and hearing.

Mount Rushmore

My mother is also on a forced march with cancer of the colon that spread to her liver. Very soon she will have a procedure to direct blood flow to the left side of her liver to make it big enough to sustain her.

In late December, she will have surgery and both her colon and liver.

Both of us so much appreciate the prayers and support that everyone has given to us.

168 Comments

  1. Prayers for bothe you and your mother continue! May God bless you both with renewed health. Big Tex hugs! β€οΈπŸ™β€οΈ

  2. Your courage and unwavering faith are a true and deep love of our Lord from Him and for Him from you. You are such an inspiration πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

    1. I’ve been praying for you and I will continue to intercede. And I won’t be lifting up your sweet Mama as well. I pray for the Lord’s complete healing over you both. God bless you

      1. Oh no! Autocorrect is so miserable and I’m sorry I didn’t catch that of course I will be lifting up your sweet Mama as well! Please forgive that autocorrect that I didn’t catch I am definitely praying!

  3. Praying as I read your post and as I type this comment. Father, I ask for strength for Paula to face this stage of the battle she is in, that she would experience Your Presence in a very real way to her. Give her the mindset of faith in you to trust your plan. Give the doctors wisdom in deciding how to care for Paula and how to treat the disease. I ask for her husband, that you would bless him as he cares for Paula. I ask you to watch over her mom and the battle she is facing as well. Thank you, Father, for Paula and the example and inspiration she is to so many people.

  4. Your unwanted march certainly gives me pause when stressing over much seemingly smaller things. Thank you for continuing to set the example of looking cancer straight in the eye and living your best life. Prayers continue for you and your mama.

  5. Paula, You are an inspiration to all ! Keeping you both in my thoughts and prayers. By the way, i joined Stitch Fix after seeing you model your outfits πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ¦‹

  6. Praying for you and your family. I honestly don’t know how you keep the strength and faith but you are a true inspiration. πŸ™

  7. Praying for you and your Mother Paula. May God watch over you both . You are such a warrior. I admire that you are trying to live your best life. So sorry that you and your mom are having to fight this battle. Blessings to your husband also . Thanks for letting us know how everything is going.

  8. You are truly an inspiration and a shining example of legacy it really means to live our best life. Thinking about you and your mamma and keeping you both in prayer. πŸ’œ

    1. I so much appreciate your prayers and support. Hoping that chemo will work quickly to restore my hearing and help my balance.

  9. So excited for the new trial in Fairfax!! That sounds awesome.

    Your mom and you are such an inspiration. I know that that’s the last thing you want to be, but. . . it can’t be helped.

    And your pup is adorable and looks very happy!

    Wendy

  10. Oh Paula, wow wha you are enduring and your momma too. Having walked this road with many friends β€” above all I am praying for hope and the peace of God to wash over you. May you know His presence moment by moment. Praying this trial opens up, that chemo is manageable and that you are able to continue to live your best life. May our God give you strength and joy in the midst of this sucky situation. You are loved and covered in prayer by thousands!!

  11. Sending you prayers for healing, Paula. We are blessed to live in a country with the best health care available. My children had some health issues growing up that found us in the Boston Hospitals and it’s amazing how many people come from all over the world for treatment here. May God lend a helping hand to your doctors to find a treatment that works for you. Hugs and blessings, Suzanne.

  12. Praying for you and your mom, Paula! I hope you show improvements with the chemo. You must be so relieved to be able to start the trial in VA instead of having to travel to Boston. Sending you both healing vibes!
    Take care,
    Shelley

  13. Paula you show me how to live life in the present. I hold your beautiful soul at Jesus’ feet and ask for a healing that only He could do; this clinical trial would be effective and strong. Much love!!!!

  14. I am sending you love and encouragement as you fight the beast -cancer, There are no words except that I admire you as you fight on. Good luck with the trial process, and God Bless you and your mom, your family as well!

  15. Paula, may God watch over you and your mom with love, peace and understanding. My heart and prayers go out to you and your mom. We often ask, why me? You are a blessing to so many others. I pray for your healing.

  16. Paula, you are an amazing inspiration to us all. You are in my prayers as you move on to the trial and chemo as if your mother. You are both walking a hard road, life is not fair and yet you show up everyday with your beautiful smile and you are living your best life something so many do not do. Sending you a big hug although I know that God has you wrapped in his arms and is carrying you on your path.

  17. Paula, I am praying for you, your husband, and your mom each day. Every time I think of you , I am reminded of your great courage and your wonderful attitude. I thank the Lord for you! I pray that the Lord will guide the doctors throughout this process and that He will give you and your mom all that you need to go through these treatments. I pray for healing for you both.
    Love,
    Suzanne

  18. Prayers for you and your mama for healing. Prayers for both of you and your hubby and the rest of your family for comfort and strength during these coming weeks.

  19. Paula you are a very strong person who it seems does not give up easily! Good for you! Fight with all your might for you, your mother. And your husband who probably needs you the most! And of course your trusty dog Sherman!
    I am praying every day for you and your family and your mom! Do take time to rest and if you need to put this wonderful Sweet Pea with Paula Skulina on hold. We understand Paula! Believe in the miracles that definitely do happen! Keep positive thoughts, make plans for every day, week, month, year! Don’t give up! You’ve got this. Just show your doctors how strong you really are! On your side!

  20. Paula, thank you for always updating us on you and your Mom’s conditions. I’m praying for every detail to go perfectly with both of you with treatment and healing.

  21. I hope the chemo helps with your hearing and balance. That must be incredibly frustrating! I pray that time moves quickly for you over the next month so your trial can begin. Keeping you and your mom in my thoughts and prayers, my friend! You got this!! XOXO

  22. Paula, I’m so sorry you’re having hearing and balance problems. I hope the chemo gives you some relief. I’m so glad you got to travel out west with Mr. SP and Sherman before your treatment starts. You inspire me to live my best life, too. You’re on my church’s prayer list each week, and now I’ll add your mom too.

  23. Your strength, faith and positive attitude are beautiful! They will get you through this and I am praying for you and your mom ❀❀❀

  24. Oh girlfriend, I am praying for you and your mom! I am thrilled that you will be able to do your new procedure in Virginia! One less thing to worry about. You blow me away with your strength and grace…keep on keeping on!

    Hugs,

    Lynn

  25. May God bless you and your mother with the strength you need. I hope to soon read that you are both survivors!

    Sending prayers your way

  26. Prayers and kind thoughts to you and your mother!
    Your courage and attitude are amazing—-and a great help to those who are also suffering.

  27. Sweet Paula, I’m sending you every prayer I have for strength and for the trial to help.

    I’m sorry to read about your Mom too. You are such a brave strong person. You amaze me with your spirit!

  28. Paula, your strength is admirable with all you have gone through. Maybe knowing everyone enjoys you sharing ideas and travel photos helps ease things for you. I truly wish you and Mama well! It is great you are seeing the country when you can. Our country is a beautiful place and you are a beautiful person.

  29. Paula, as with all the wonderful followers of you and your Mama during these stressful times, I, too, will continue to pray that you and she stay on with living your best lives! We all appreciate the beautiful pictures you share showing us the positive attitude you have…you are an amazing person!

  30. Thank you for the update on your health/treatment plan. I love seeing the beautiful pics you always post. and seeing Sherman by your side.. he is your greatest supporter!! I’m sorry to hear that your momma is going through similar health problems. I will continue to pray for you and include your lovely mother in those prayers! You have certainly been and are an inspiration to many people not only on this blog! I’m so blessed to have found you and followed along for so many years.

  31. Sending a lot of prayers and hugs your way, Paula with some extras for your Mom. Praying that your chemo side effects are mild. You are an amazing woman. You have such strength and grace . Please know that all your Thistlewood friends are praying extra hard for you!

  32. Cancer is certainly no picnic, I don’t know anyone anymore who hasn’t been touched somehow by it. My mom had colon cancer, it can be so brutal. I hope you both keep living your best lives!

  33. Look at all of these wonderful intercessors! I am joining them in asking God for a huge blessing and encouragement for you and your mom! Praying for your husband as well, he has the kindest eyes. I’m sorry you are enduring this, your positive attitude is contagious.

  34. Paula, I will continue to pray for you and your Mother! You are both very brave! My God bless you, heal you, and keep you both safe on your journey!

  35. Continued strength and prayers to both you and your mother. Bless your lives and living each day to its fullest.

  36. Paula, you are amazing. Your courage and determination to live your best life facing your obstacles is inspiring. I pray for your chemo side effects to be minimal and the trial in Fairfax to be the answer. Hugs

  37. PAULA,
    ONCE A TEACHER ALWAYS A TEACHER. SHARING THIS FORCED MARCH IS EDUCATING SO MANY PEOPLE WHO STUMBLE UPON YOUR BLOG ON SEARCHES FOR LUNG CANCER. YOU ARE A TESTAMENT TO LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR JOURNEY. YOU ARE HELPING IN WAYS YOU MAY NOT KNOW. (SIDE NOTE: CAN I END A SENTENCE WITH “KNOW?”

    GIVE SHERMAN A HUGE HUG FROM CHLOE AND ELLIOTT IN COLORADO.
    PRAYING FOR THE CHEMO TO BE TOLERABLE. PRAYING FOR THE TRIAL TO BEGIN AS SCHEDULED, PRAYING FOR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS AND RESEARCHERS WHO NEVER GIVE UP ON THE PURSUIT FOR BETTER CARE AND OUTCOMES.
    LOVE, LAURA IN COLORADO

  38. Paula, you and your mom and husband are in my prayers. I know God is watching over you and asking God for His peace and strength through him. Stay strong, Paula, thanks for sharing the update.

  39. You and your sweet mama are in my daily prayers. As I’ve mentioned before…I have battled breast cancer and my husband is currently a lung cancer patient. I understand everything involved with feelings, emotions, fears and anticipation of what’s next. It’s the hardest journey we will ever take and to have your mother going thru this at the same time is too much. I took care of my bed ridden mother while I battled cancer and as an only child…it was a nightmare.
    Gentle hugs and continued prayers for you both

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Jackie. You really were put through the wringer. Sending prayers to you and your husband.

  40. Love and hugs and prayers for strength and healing for both you and your mom. <3 Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your difficult journey with all of us. <3<3

  41. prayers for strength and resilience to you and your mama! y’all are a great inspiration to keep living your best life! always!

  42. You have been such a trooper through all of this. God has indeed given you holy endurance. I’m sure it’s harder for you to see your mom going through all of this than dealing with it yourself. I am so sorry your family has been twice hit, and at the same time:( You all will continue being in my prayers. Your struggle puts all the Christmas fuss in perspective. Grace be with you.

  43. Paula, May God hold his loving arms around you and Georgia, give you both the courage to fight the good fight, and restore your health.

  44. Paula, you and your Mother and on my prayers. I pray for healing and for strength. You are a true inspiration my sweet friend. Sending you a big hug!

  45. Paula, I’ll continue to lift you and your mama up in prayer. I know every step of this march is painful, but I’m glad to see you living your best life and enjoying time with your family. We’re always here if you need anything. Thanks for sharing your updates with us and letting us pray for you. Hoping the trial can start soon!

  46. I am praying for you and your sweet mother. God bless your sweet souls. I am sending you both love πŸ’• every day.
    Love you both.

    Shirley

  47. Thank you so much for allowing us all to be part of your cancer journey, Paula! I’ve been praying for both you and your Mom during this journey as I know it’s not an easy one. I love seeing pictures of you guys hiking, treasure hunting, and at the lake with Sherman living your best life. It’s such a gift. Sending you tons of hugs and adding my prayers to the others the trial opens soon and you’re a perfect match, CoCo

  48. Hi Paula! I know we haven’t been in touch very much since our early blogging years (although we do “like” some posts on IG and I appreciate the comments you leave on my blog–when I post!! I still don’t post as often as I should….!). I think of you and come here to check in and see how you’re doing. What makes me so happy is to see you living your best life in between what has to be a difficult time. You going for walks, enjoying your doggy, spending time with family, makes me happy to see and reiterates that life is meant to be lived and enjoyed! I am thinking about you and your mom’s healing and that the chemo won’t leave you too fatigued. Stay strong, my friend, and keep shining!

    1. It is wonderful to hear from you, Serena! I love your podcast and it entertains me while I’m working on projects for the blog. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

      1. That is so awesome to hear, Paula!! Wow, thank you! My little ‘ole podcast. I tell ya–I am trying to be consistent with it, since consistency is something I struggle with. But I’m happy to report I am publishing it each week! Hoping not to run out of topics. HA! πŸ™‚ Have a great holiday!

  49. I think many of us take our health for granted. Thank you for sharing your very personal journey and reminding all of us to live our best life. You and your mom will be in my prayers – You got this!!’

    Thank you for taking the time to share this post on the Share the Wealth party. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  50. Hi Paula, came up on your blog by chance, or not, I applaud you in you sharing your juorney, as a surviver of LC myself albeit of a lesser stage.
    I find your blog trually inspiring for all, and especially to those of us being or been on this perilous journey, I trually wish you and you family all the best for the future.
    Thank you.
    Greg
    UK England

  51. Paula, I’m honored to share your story this evening at Share Your Style, #327. I went through cancer with both my father and mother. Mom had a great oncologist and I know every day is a gift. More prayers for you and your mother. <3 <3 <3 I'm glad you've had the energy to hike when you can and that you are feeling well despite the balance issues and hearing loss. I live with bees buzzing in both of my ears (MeniΓ©re's disease) and getting hit in the head a couple of times this fall hasn't helped the balance any… I understand. πŸ˜‰ I tell my friends at work that I feel like a drunk walking down the hallway since I step out to either side a lot! Lol!

    Big hugs and continued prayers for your mom, for you and your husband. Prayers that the chemo just makes you a little more tired but not ill, and that the trials begin sooner. <3

    Love,
    Barb πŸ™‚

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