So much gratitude!

You may already know I had a very rough time healthwise in the Fall of 2020. We added radiation to the targeted therapy drug with hope that this one-two punch would knock out the progression I was facing, but sadly it didn’t do the job. I got pneumonia, suffered more progression, started chemo then got pneumonia again. It was a difficult time, and it became hard to keep up with walking the (large) dog twice a day. I was very weak and tired, could not swallow hardly anything, and had no appetite.

I’m so happy to say that I’m doing much better now. I continue to feel a little better each day, and am very grateful! I haven’t had any further swallowing appointments or procedures, but gradually I’m able to swallow a slightly increasing range of soft foods. The chemo is definitely working to kill the cancer, and it’s not too hard on me.

I seem to have settled into a rhythm each three week chemo cycle, and the side effects seem to be getting more manageable. Every three weeks I have about five rough days, when I feel extremely tired and experience side effects like nausea, general unwellness and a rash.

We are given a prescription for pills to counteract the nausea, to be taken as needed. I’ve used them a few times, but generally find that the anti-seasickness bracelets (that I also used to reduce morning sickness during my pregnancies) take the edge off enough for me to manage. Combine that with eating frequent small meals, and I feel quite well. The nausea only hits for a few days out of a three week cycle.

I’ve worked at being proactive, preparing for the phases of the cycle as best as I can. I take steroids for three days around the day when I get chemo, to help keep my body from reacting too strongly to the chemo. The rough days are largely a reaction to stopping the steroids. I make sure to plan to eat well and keep hydrated. I prepare foods in advance that will entice me to eat when I’m struggling from loss of appetite. I greatly reduce my expectations about what I’ll be able to accomplish those days, though I do find light exercise and phone calls with friends energizing.

I’ve been using aloe vera to help with the rash, and last cycle I applied it preemptively, before I had any rash symptoms, and did not get much of a rash at all! My skin was only a little pink, and not hardly itchy! Now the nerd in me is thinking we should do research on this, dividing patients into randomized trial groups to see if it was the aloe vera that worked, or merely gradual lessening of side effects, which is common as the body adjusts to a new treatment. I’m so curious, but I don’t want to experience the itchy rash again so I plan to apply it preemptively again next time!

We’ve been the recipients of so much generosity and kindness. What a difference that makes! Thank you so much to all who have brought or sent flowers, food, masks, food, prayers, food, lovely cards, kind thoughts and words, or food. We have been strengthened and uplifted with the love and support of so many. Thank you! So much gratitude!

I’ve also had the great gift of getting several sheets of exercises from two different oncology physiotherapists to help improve breathing and some trouble with my neck / shoulder region. I’m grateful to be seeing some improvement. It’s hard to know how much is the multiple sheets of exercises that I do every day, and how much is the cancer mercifully shrinking away. Either way, so very grateful.

I’ve been very busy with lung cancer advocacy, like the ongoing work as patient representative for the Canadian Cancer Trials Group Lung Site, 3CTN, The Ottawa Hospital, International Lung Cancer Foundation, and new connections with research teams in other cities. There is so much to tell you about how The White Ribbon Project is growing, and how people have stood up to raise awareness and proudly represent in eight Canadian provinces already! So exciting! Also continuing this month I’m part of a team exploring how to accelerate new drug approvals for people with lung cancer, and continuing conversations with a YouTuber who wants to help raise awareness about lung cancer. There is so much important work to do. It takes a team!

I’m so very grateful for lung cancer research that is helping to keep so many lung cancer survivors alive so we can do the things that matter to us.

More research means more survivors.

Research is life.

Research matters.

I really want to make sure you know I’m alive and quite well, doing a little better every day, and oh so very grateful.

9 thoughts on “So much gratitude!

  1. Jill We continue to stand in the Lord with you and for you. Your letters are so encouraging even in the midst of such a process of treatment. Thank you for such sharing. In Christ Ron and Chris

    On Tue, Feb 16, 2021 at 10:53 AM Through the Valley wrote:

    > Jill posted: ” You may already know I had a very rough time healthwise in > the Fall of 2020. We added radiation to the targeted therapy drug with hope > that this one-two punch would knock out the progression I was facing, but > sadly it didn’t do the job. I got pneumonia, ” >

  2. Praise the Lord and thanks for the update. I pray for you and yours every time you come to mind
    May the Lord continue to heal and bless you. Love Laraine and Fred

  3. You are so amazing, Jill… I would not have the courage or stamina to live with the love and optimism you have. God is being glorified by your faith, your life and your willingness to live with gratitude. You are such an inspiration!

  4. Hello Jill,
    Thank you for the update on your health and lung cancer activism. You are such an inspiration and hope – during the good times and during the times it takes all the patience & strength one can muster. I wanted to let you know that the Beekman 1802 company makes many products and they are all clean and made with goat milk. Many people on chemotherapy swear by their unscented soap and cream. I would be happy to send you some, if you like. Just let me know!! Take Care, Barbara LaMonaca

  5. Jill – thank you for this ‘good news’ update. Indeed you have much to be grateful for and you never cease to amaze with your dedication to the cause of other lung cancer patients. You continue to be in my prayers as always.

    In Christ’s love,


  6. Jill, I am hopeful reading that you are getting through these latest challenges with such grace and strength. I am always mindful of what may lay ahead and feel encouraged when I see someone handling things in such a positive way. All the best to you.

  7. Praise God, Jill! His mercies are new every morning! His spirit in you is evident and you are amazing. The good gifts you are receiving are testimony to your amazing family and relationship connections. I’m so proud to know you and to hear/be educated about the lung Cancer research you and the team have already captured and given to those who will benefit.
    I’m thanking Him fir you again today. May He continue to take you THROUGH; in gratitude and love. Love, In Christ, Christine.
    P..s. Thanks for a glimpse of the canal I miss so much.😄

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