My Next Chapter

Since the moment I got diagnosed with cancer, most people have told me to be strong and to fight. And let me tell you, of the thousands of things I have learned about myself, I had NO idea of my own strength. None. If I wrote about the pain, discomfort, ailments, ALL of the side effects of treatment and being ill, you would no longer be interested in reading this blog because it would be so dark and so hopeless. I have chosen to share the PG-13 version of this hell but make no mistake, Hell is what it is. Today, I want to share with you the slightest glimpse so you know not just what I am experiencing, but what my sweet little family has to witness.

I vomit ALL THE TIME. If I’m not vomiting, I’m either way drugged up, or watching clock and calculating when the last time I took meds (many of which make me vomit) and is it time for more. Let me give you some examples so you know what I am dealing with:

  • I’ve vomited so hard that I’ve given myself a black eye.
  • I’ve dry heaved so hard I’ve given myself a bloody nose.
  • I’ve thrown up so hard I’ve peed my pants. This probably has something to do with the softball-sized tumor on my ovary.
  • I’ve vomited so much in one day, my poor son said, “Wow, Mom you should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for throwing up.”
  • The convulsions of dry heaving have slammed my to my knees in a public restroom with tile and bruised my boney knees.
  • I’ve vomited so many times, my dental enamel is eroding and my teeth are weaker from the amount of stomach acid in my mouth.

I can’t tell you the number of times my poor husband has woken up to me puking or the number of barf bags he’s taken to the dumpster.

After going to MD Anderson, it’s time for me to write this post, the one I’ve dreaded writing all along. I received a scan and it’s apparent that my last two chemotherapy regimens were ineffective. Simply put, my cancer has aggressively spread. The tumor on my ovary is now about the size of a softball. This particular tumor flippin’ hurts, and you all know that I don’t cry wolf. The tumor on my pancreas has doubled in size. The doc at MD Anderson said that if I was over 65, he wouldn’t even consider any more treatment. But, due to my age, there is one last form of aggressive chemo we could try, if I wanted to continue treatment. And when I say aggressive chemotherapy, I’m talking IV treatment, even more severe vomiting, dehydration, hair loss, the entire lot. Torture.

Imagine what we had to go through to decide which path to take? No, actually don’t. Don’t, because it just hurts too badly.

There are so many things that we had to take into consideration. The truth is, while I have survived four total chemo regimens, only one has actually worked. And I was warned there are no guarantees and very little hope with my fifth option. Most of our concern is that my body isn’t strong enough to handle it. The other is side effects from the chemo. I already struggle with severe vomiting and intense pain from the disease process and I’m not sure I can deal with a double dose. My doc at MDA said that with or without further treatment, he expects for me to live anywhere from a few months up to seven or eight.

After weighing my options and consulting with doctors and family, I have decided to forgo further treatment and choose hospice care in the coming months. The last two years I have marched to the beat of my drum and done it all my way, except for chemo. I was on its schedule, its side effects, its regimen, and I’m done.

I look back at the last two years and see the time for it was: a gift. What I was able to see, hear, feel and absorb was nothing short of incredible. I’d rather spend the time I have left comfortable, surrounded by my loved ones and in a house filled with light, love and laughter. I’ll even be ok with the occasional tear.

I understand that you might disagree with my decision. I’ve fought harder than you can even imagine for 22 months now. You might want me to fight longer. Maybe you think I’m giving up. But this decision is mine to make. If you don’t agree with my choice or opinion on any of this, please keep it to yourself.  

This is me choosing to march to the beat of my own drum. I choose comfort over an experimental medication. I want to spend the rest of my time with grace and dignity, something I’ve tried so hard to maintain while fighting this brutal disease.

Much love to you all.

46 thoughts on “My Next Chapter

    • Like I told you, I think of you daily. You are and have been the strongest person I know personally. You and only you can make a decision like this. God Bless you and your family. Your courage amazes me. Love to you and all your family.

  1. My heart is broken for you… and yours. If there is anything I can do besides grieve for your journey, let me know? I know you have prepared your husband and son ( mother and father) along this horrible path, but, Lori…. you are so very special and I hate this (and all) fucking cancers. When we all talk about spending time, it is the one commodity we don’t recognize as unreplaceable… and do it mindlessly… except for you, wise woman. I believe you have helped so many people to recognize that and have enhanced their lives. May your journey from here be kind.

  2. You’ve set such a remarkable example of how to live. I will pray for your peace, comfort , and happiness in your time with those who love you most. You have been and will continue to be such an inspiration for those who know you and those who may have only heard of you. You, B and J will be in my daily prayers.

  3. I wanted to reach out and let you know you have my support and love from afar. I started following your blog when the story appeared in the Sun-News. My 17 year old plays football and I have often thought of you during this year and your love and support of the players.

    It might not be much coming from a total stranger, however know you make a difference in my life. I did cry – or am about to – when I read this post. Your strength is amazing and you have made me laugh and appreciate life. Thank you.

    Jenny

  4. Lori, you are an inspiration. You exhibit such strength and courage. May God bless you and your family, and may you be able to comfortably enjoy each day. I distinctly remember my mom choosing not to pursue further treatment. And it is a decision I fully respect and understand. She taught me what true strength really is, and that quality is so much more important than quantity. You are teaching people the same thing!! You are genuinely a perfect example of a warrior.

  5. Sending lots of love to you and your family. I’ve always looked up to you. You’re beautiful and graceful and this world has been so blessed to have you❤️

  6. Precious Lori, you have and continue to be an inspiration to all of us on your blog. I pray for your peace during this time of transition and admire your decision now and decisions in the past. Who of us would not want quality of life over quantity, especially if the quantity means being so sick that you do not enjoy the time that you do have. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are and have been with you and your loved ones.
    I love you,
    Robin

  7. Lori, of course hearing this is hard for those of us that know you, but I believe in you that you are making the best decision for you and your family. Ultimately this is your life and I’d want to spend the last of my life with my loved ones as well. Don’t doubt yourself, you have been nothing but inspiration for all of us. My heart and daily prayers go out to you and your family. May God be with you, comfort you and give you peace. I love you Chicka!

  8. Lori,
    You have made an incredible decision and it is the right one for you and your family. May this time be spent enjoying each other’s company.

  9. Don’t ever feel you are giving up or throwing in the towel!! You are fighting the way you feel is right for you and your family!! You will always be a fighter in my eyes!!! You and your family will always be in my prayers.

  10. I love you and admire your strength, I support your decision and send you lots of love! I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always……

  11. We love you Lori. You are a beautiful person. Not seeing you but years apart at a time, one would never ever suspect that you were ever in distress… either you are the best deserving Golden Globe award for best actress or… and this is the likely case, you care enough about others so much that you do not want their spirits to be down because of your situation. I will share this post to all that I know… just because of all of my friends only a handful will know you but that will not stop people from knowing about you. I can respect your choice I cannot even imagine the physical, emotional, and spiritual toll it has taken upon you and your family. I pray for you to carry on with the strength to hold on I truly hope that you will endure just long enough for a medical miracle to occur. I read a quote that you never know how strong you are until that is all you have. Thank you for having the courage to keep up on this blog “They may not remember what you said but rather how you made them feel” and your ability to affect people by both your words and actions will continue to touch people through this blog. Much love.

    Kermit

  12. Lori – you are an amazingly strong, thoughtful and beautiful soul. May all of us have just a fraction of your strength, compassion and everlasting love for life. There are not enough words in the English language for us to say thank you for sharing your continual journey. Much love my friend!

  13. Lori you are an inspiration to so many. This has been a difficult journey for you and You have taken it head on with strength and grace. Your continued grace has touched the hearts of many. You are surrounded by family and friends who love and adore you. Not everyone gets to say that. Miah and Brandon are two lucky guys to have you. Your light will shine forever through the eyes of your son. Sending you love and hugs from afar. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Praying for peace and comfort for you and your family.
    Love ,
    Jeannie

  14. Lori you are a true inspiration and the definition of courage. I support you wholeheartedly. God bless you and make this journey a little easier for you and your family. Will never forget how you danced in all our hearts.

  15. Lori, my prayers are with you and your loved ones. My heart breaks to know that you’ve been having to endure this. It’s especially touching to learn of your story, as it’s more personable since we were classmates. Your infectious smile is the first memory when your name comes to mind. I truly respect and praise the difficult and brave decision you’ve made.

  16. Dear Lori, I am so saddened that none of your treatments have helped with your disease. I have read, cried, and prayed for you and your family along the way. You are so courageous for fighting your battle and then knowing when enough is enough. I wish you many good months with your family and friends making amazing memories. God loves you and has a place for you. This is not the end but the beginning!

  17. Praying for you and your family, Lori! You are such an inspiration to all. A very unique, remarkable, and warrior woman that everyone be thankful have you as a friend in life. Keep the faith! 🙂 Anything is possible, Release your mind.

  18. Lori,
    From the first ti.e we met, all those years ago, I knew you were were an exceptional, special person. I have so much admiration for you and your strength. You have touched the hearts and souls of so many throughout your journey. You are a true inspiration to each and everyone of us that can only “imagine” the he’ll you have indured. May you and your beautiful family find peace and comfort in your decision and know that you are honored and loved by all of us. May God bless you and bring you eternal peace.

  19. Lori, My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I’m a cancer survivor and I just can’t imagine that my road could have been half as hard as yours has been. I often thought angry and pitiful thoughts. I imagined losing my life…. not seeing my children grow. The very thought of it never failed to break me. As I read your story, of which I’ve been aware of for some time, I can’t help but break again. You are a strong, beautiful, wise, selfless, person….mother. Only you know what’s, not only, best for you, but what’s best for your child. Your child is your legacy. You undoubtedly have taught him how to be strong, how to fight, how to surrender, how to love and mostly how to live. Each day IS a beautiful gift that we all take for granted until we are faced with terrible situations like this. I don’t know how you feel about the afterlife but if I may, I’d like to pray now. And I hope many read this and pray with me. JESUS MY SAVIOR AND GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, Please hear our prayer. Though we do not understand your plan, tho it seems unfair and I’ll timed that Lori and her family must suffer this agony, we know that your will must be done. We pray for a miracle. We pray that Lori may be healed from head to toe, in the name of Jesus. If it is not your will for this to be done then we pray that Lori and her family enjoy every second of the rest of their time together without physical pain. We pray that you bless them with more strength and endurance. We pray that you surround them with your heavenly guardian angels to comfort them and pick them off the floor when they feel they can’t stand anymore. We pray that Lori and her family are able to say everything they need to say to each other and that Lori’s memory never ever fades. We pray that her teachings and her legacy, that of a warrior, goes on through her children and grandchildren. But mostly, we pray that she suffers no more and that you welcome her at your gates in heaven whenever you decide to call her home whether it be 2 months or 50 years from now….and that she and her family find peace in comfort in your promise to reunite them again someday. All this I pray in your perfect name, father God, and in your son Jesus Christ’s holy name…I thank you in advance for hearing and answering our prayer in your perfect timing, according to your perfect will. Amen

  20. Lori – you are truly an inspiration to so many people!! Your courage and positive outlook on life is admirable, your journey has been amazing and your decision to live a quality life with your amazing family grips my ♥. Our prayers for a calming peace over you and your loved ones as you are all so courageous. May God Bless You and your loved ones! Stay strong and know you are loved by so many! You are a truly amazing woman!! Thank You for touching my life I am truly blessed and inspired by you! I our thoughts and prayers!!

  21. The decision is yours and yours alone,your strength amazes me ,may the sun shine for you the in the precious days to come may you laugh,and smile ,talk and cry with your beautiful family enjoy them all the days of your life may gods blessings be with you and your family much love …Faith in Las Cruces

  22. I don’t know you but ran across your blog through a friend’s Facebook post. I’ve yet to read your other blogposts, as this one as left me…speechless.

    Like you, I have cancer. Unlike you, I am “lucky” as my treatments have been side-effect free, although the (dumb, motherf*cking, %€#£*€~£~£!!!) cancer is aggressive. This is not about my story; however, I wanted to express the depth of my empathy. And I am so sorry, so very sorry, you have had to made the decision you’ve made. Not because of the decision, but I put myself in your place and imagine my kids, my family and friends, if I ever had to make the same decision.

    It isn’t always about Fighting. Ironically, it’s about Peace…in your heart and soul. And this is what I wish for you: May the rest of your journey be full of love, laughter and peace.

  23. When it comes to you it is true… Many people, and I mean many, will not live in a lifetime how you have chosen to live in your time. That doesnt address how you’ve been robbed but it is a living testament of true strength and character and above that it is a living legacy of what life should look like. I can’t say even for a moment what you feel like and to imagine it is like you say, too painful. My heart and the love and support of our family is with you and your family every step of the way.

  24. You have been an amazing, courageous inspiration to so many. May God bless you and your family during this difficult time and endless prayers sent your way.

  25. Lori, I had no idea of the hell you have been going through…. My cousin sent me this link and my heart just dropped while I was reading it. I am so saddened for what you and your family are going through but I respect your decision. Let me just say that you are an amazing woman with so much strength and courage that I can’t even fathom ever having. I will be praying for you and your family to have peace and healing.

  26. Hello Lori, I don’t know if you remember me, Cece Osborn. I used to live in Las Cruces.
    I have to say that I am very impressed that you are standing your ground on this. I hope that no one is trying to force you or guilt you or cajole you into going against your own decision. If they are have them contact me….the tongue lashing they get will be for the both of us.
    I also have cancer and I am still amazed, irritated and sorely hurt by the people I know who tried to force me, cajole me, threaten me and guilt me into chemo. And the people I barely knew, or did not know at all, who they had contact me for the same guilt trip. I was called stupid among other things for saying hell no, of course NOT A ONE of them had personally taken chemo. I have seen first hand what you are going thru, spent years of my childhood watching my adoptive mother every week in the ‘chemo parlor’ as it was called-ingrained in my memory. I knew that I would not do it, could not do it. The oncologist, after the yelling match we had with each other, pointed his finger and me and said ‘dead or dying in 3 months, come back if you want to live”..that was Dec 20, 2002. Still here, still no chemo. When I think of you I still see you as a little girl riding Cathy’s pony Misty-the flea bitten grey, with a switch and making her ride like a million bucks…it was not her, it was you, the million dollar rider. Ride fast horses my old friend, and godspeed. cece

  27. Ms Lori, I hope I am strong enough to make the same decision one day. Wish we could have known you longer and better. I will remember the gift forever. It nearly killed me. Love you sweetheart.

  28. Lori: Barb and I read the article in the Sun-News today about this incredible person who has lived through hell, but remains the symbol of love, inspiration and toughness. May God keep you in his arms and reward you with his love during this final journey. And may all of us who have lived times of difficulty remember Lori Paulson and try to emulate all the good she has given, the fighting spirit she has embraced and the unbelievable love and compassion she has shared! Lori Paulson will never be forgotten!

  29. I’ve followed your blog for a while now- amazed and humbled by your courage, strength, and zest for the life and Journey you have been on. This crushes my heart but so incredibly understand that it’s your life, your decision. No one walks in your shoes- this is your decision to make and honestly no one has the right to say if it’s what they would do! You have such a beautiful inner light- thank you for sharing your story. Our family prays for you and yours; know that you have touched so many. May Gods grace be with all of you.

    Karen

  30. Lori: I’m Dennis Trujillo’s mom and Perry’s sister. I’m thankful for what you have been and done for my son. I lost my husband to cancer on the 21st of October he made his peace with God. May you find your peace but I pray for your husband and son. My prayers are with you that you cross over to a wonderful area filled with no more pain and cancer. If you should meet my husband on the other side. Tell him I love and miss him so much. God Bless you……..

      • Take care………tell everyone how much love. My husband told us all he loved us. I just wish I had recorded him. So much love to you and prayers………….God Bless you he “God” is the one in charge.

      • HOw are you doing………..I wish I could help with anything you may need. I know that the greatest thing from northern NM I can do is pray…………I can go get you some dirt from the Santario de Chimayo if you would like some. My prayers are with you and your family.

  31. I’m praying for you Lori. As I was reading your article I was thinking how precious life is and how we never should take for granted this life on earth. The Lord reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures which is Isaiah 40:31 for they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles they shall run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. May the Lord give you strength courage and faith. Blessings to you and your family. God bless you! My Son Tyler Rogers shared your story with me and you have touched my life.

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