In Memory of Lori Paulson

Lori Paulson (8/5/1980 – 3/16/2016), 35, passed away from pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. Most obituaries would talk about her brave and tough battle. Most obituaries would be written by family scratching their heads, not knowing which life accomplishments and family of hers to highlight. Most people wouldn’t write their own obituary. But, as any of my friends could tell you, I am not ‘most’ people.

During the two years after my cancer diagnosis I was often told how strong and inspirational I was for so many. The other side of the story is the strength of the people around me. Their strength is what built me up and kept me going. My husband, my son, my parents, the family that I share no genetics with but who are indeed family, my beloved Aggie football players, girl friends and guy friends–THEY were my backbone. They held me up even when they didn’t know it.

Bragging about my own accomplishments–even in an obituary–seems so, what’s the phrase…self-indulgent? I would rather tell you what a blast my life was. I mean it was FUN. I know for a fact I laughed more than I cried. I know when I reminisce, I think about the good more than the bad. I know I was the best mommy I could be for the short amount of time I was given. Dancing, the Mayfield Trojans and the NMSU Aggies are just a few highlights. Cooking, eating and learning a lifelong art of wine was love for for my taste buds. Sharing these passions with my boys makes me proud that my family is so well rounded.

Now, let’s be real, I was no saint. But as one of my favorite people says, “Saints aren’t any fun.” I think she is right on! So tonight, do me a favor. Open a bottle of wine, “Raise your glass!” like P!nk, consume responsibly and then laugh as much as possible with the people you love. At the end of the day–at least at the end of mine–that is what I remembered.

I’m so satisfied with my short life and can’t imagine how so many people are not happy with theirs. If happiness is a choice, please choose it, every time.

A memorial service in honor of Lori will be held at 2PM on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, at Aggie Memorial Stadium. Burial will take place on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens, at 10AM.

In lieu of flowers you can make a donation to the Lori Paulson Football Excellence fund.

NMSU Foundation Inc.

PO Box 3590

Las Cruces NM 88003-3590

March 16, 2016

All of you know this has been a long road, and most of you know Lori was very ready. She has now found her peace. We are so blessed and loved I am finding it challenging to express our gratitude. I wish I could personally contact each of you.

With much love,

Brandon and Lori’s entire family

The Last One

It’s been a while since I updated you on what’s been going on with me medically, and since I don’t want to bore you with a bunch of technical stuff, I’ll get right to it: I have decided to stop taking the medicine that regulates my blood sugar. On Monday, Brandon will be taking me to La Posada at Mesilla Valley Hospice so I can be comfortable and ride the rest of this out.

Last November, my sugar levels crashed and twice we had to call for an ambulance to come help stabilize me. That’s when I had to start taking the medicine. Since then, it’s been pretty awful and the side effects are just too much. Most days I balance pain meds with just staying comfortable and it’s exhausting. I’m so tired.

For a while, there were still some things I wanted to get done. With a little help, I’ve crossed them off my list. I’m not scared of dying. My life has been a good one, and I’m at peace with this decision.

When I first started this blog, I knew the day would come that I would have to write the last post. For me, the blog was therapeutic, and a love-letter of sorts to my friends, family and friends who became family. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed sharing it. You have all made an impact on my life and I appreciate you following me on this journey and cheering on Team Lori.

There will surely be lonely days ahead, and when they come remember I am always with you. I am the wind at your back and the sunshine on your face. I am blooming flowers and raindrops in the summer. Most of all, I am the toast that comes before a good glass of wine. Please think of me and smile.

I love you all,


Bonjour from Quebec City! (a little late)

If you are friends with me on social media, chances are you saw some of the pictures that we posted from our trip to Quebec this past summer.  I’m sure some of you are wondering about all the details that made that trip come together, so I thought I’d share.  Don’t mind while I blow the dust of this oldie but (hopefully) goodie!


The food supplier for the bistros that Brandon and I work for sent their larger-account clients on an trip to the magnificent city of Quebec City. Technically, I’m not sure that our positions with the company were worthy of this trip, but because others in our organization already had trips planned, we happened to be third in line – which worked out just perfectly for us!

We had to make a quick decision, considering I was currently on my second chemo regimen (which was working) and I thought, this is a no-brainer…we are going!  Well, then – as you may remember – medically, shit hit the fan.  I started my new and third regimen only a week before the trip to Canada.  My oncologist and I hoped that I would be able to continue chemo while I was there, but my white blood cell counts plummeted, and she decided that I should take a break and just enjoy my trip. And enjoy I did! Medically, I felt fantastic almost the entire time we were there. Score!

The kind folks at Shamrock Foods really know how to PARTY, but most importantly, they reminded me so much of the wonderful company we work for.  Their desire to make their customers feel important is so much a part of their culture. Many of their employees have worked for the company for several years, and they are all incredibly loyal to each other as well as to the customer.

At the end of everyday, I would put together a slideshow to recap the day that we had.  Here are the clips…

I really hope this doesn’t come across as bragging, because I realize that so many people will never get such an opportunity, but this was one of the first times that I was able to just hang with my husband.  I wasn’t throwing up and he wasn’t working. Even better than that, neither of us had to “take care” of the details of the trip because they were already done, and SO much more.

Day: 1

Day: 2

Day: 3

This was, without a shadow of a doubt, the trip of a lifetime – an experience for the books. At moments, I almost forgot about that C word that constantly haunted me the last 16 months.  Right before the trip, I made the decision that we weren’t going to tell anyone in the group (there were 400 of us) that I have cancer.  We were just Brandon and Lori from St. Clair in New Mexico.  I wasn’t a cancer patient and he wasn’t my caretaker.

This little life of mine is exactly what I had envisioned we would be doing. It’s what we have worked so hard to achieve, and it’s almost perfect. Well, almost.



P.S. Those ten pounds that I gained in Mexico? Yeah they are back.  I’m sure you could tell by the food pics. 😉

P.P.S. A quick observation now that I’ve lost weight: I would have been able to win the hearts of men and women combined when I had more of a muffin-top.  Not the case this time around, particularly with the ladies! Who would have known that I had to use the cancer card to win the hearts of some stone-cold bitches? Shame on them. 

Articles and Stuff

Well hello blog audience –

I have a few pieces written but I have been all over the local media this week.  In case you missed them I thought I could put them all in one place.

Enjoy.  I know I had a fantastic week and I hope you did too!  LP




The Day I Skipped Hospice and Bought a Corvette Instead

It’s called priorities, people.

My son is infatuated with high-end cars and he recruited my husband to join this slightly-obsessive club.  For the last year, hours and hours have passed while my two boys Google, bookmark and obsess over muscle cars.  I, on the other hand, couldn’t care less.  Somehow, their love affair got narrowed down to Corvettes and they were glued to the latest posts on Craigslist.  At least twice a week I would have to endure watching my two boys try to “used car” sell me into buying their latest internet find.  I would just roll my eyes and then mumble something about cleaning out the garage.
One night we were all harassing each other when a light bulb came on and I thought, “How badass would it be if I actually bought my boys a Corvette?”
So I consulted with a girlfriend who gave me the green light.  Then I called my Daddy, who from this point on will be referred to as my “Not So Little Elf”, a.k.a. NSL Elf. After that, I did what any normal wife would do – I hacked my husband’s phone (hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do) to see if I could find their latest infatuation. Fail.Then I called NSL Elf and he called his associates. That’s when we found what I hoped to be “The One”.
NSL Elf jumped into high gear and helped me with the details:  He found a mechanic to inspect the car, and set up an appointment for us  to check it out.  Of course, the only date and time that the car owner, my NSL Elf and I were available to meet just so happened to be the same day that Brandon and I had talked about starting Hospice on. Instead, I convinced my husband that he should stay at work the full day (which should have been a clue) and I could start Hospice the next week.  Little did he know what plans NSL Elf and I had.
After exchanging money, I jumped in my truck and followed a black, shiny, convertible Corvette that NSL Elf drove to the DMV. After that, we parked it in his barn, naturally, next to a turn-of-the-century stagecoach.  I mean, come on…I am a Paulson after all.
On Christmas Day (with a fair amount of coordination – thank you DiG) NSL Elf drove up  and surprised my boys with just what be my favorite gift ever given.
For my sweet boys, may you talk about love, life, and solve all of the world’s problems while under the hood of this beauty.  But even more importantly, put the top down, remember me and enjoy the sights of our beautiful Mesilla Valley.

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.

The Aggies Win: Twice!


If you don’t know by now (where have you been?), my beloved NMSU Aggies won their first game last Saturday after 17 straight losses.  AND, today they won their second game in a row!  Before I lose my readership, this post isn’t yet another post about the Aggies…it’s just that they reminded me that even against all odds; even the Aggies can win – twice.

They may not win a bowl game (this year), but even they can come out on top from time to time.  I guess in some weird way, they inspire me not to give up.  Maybe a black cat ran across the field on All Hallow’s Eve?  Maybe the curse was lifted on this special night?  Nonetheless, after the ejections, old injuries, new injuries, the true freshmen players…they hung in there together and refused to hand over the W.  That night and this afternoon, they simply never gave up.

I know because I can see it in people’s eyes when they see me, my last post was pathetic.  I tried adding something snarky about how the conversation went between the physician’s assistant at MD Anderson and I.  It just didn’t work.  Recently, a sweet friend asked how I deal with and escape all this madness. The short answer is – I don’t.  I deal with the situation head on, leave the battle ground a little bloody and slightly swollen, and then move on.  Literally, my time is too valuable and precious to get worked up for long.  After all, I’ve got a little Cobra to cheer on and a whole bunch of big Aggies.

PS – Thank you for your love; even when I’m scared, even when I’m sad, and even when I have the game winning ball.


This Post is Simply Self Preservation 

I am so loved, that many of my friends and family have constant medical updates if not with me, then with my husband. As much as I would love to call all of my loved ones and have a one-on-one with them, I just don’t have the energy.After being about three weeks into my latest chemo treatment, it became blazingly apparent that this wasn’t going to be a “walk in the park” but rather a steep climb up the Swiss Alps. Some of the more notable side effects have been vomiting, muscle spasms, fatigue, itchy welts, shortness of breath and a bad taste in my mouth followed by a lack of appetite. The cancer struggle has been real!

Last week the tumor board met at MD Anderson and this week I was told that the targeted, directed therapies are not an option for me. Since the tumors have caused so much liver damage, they fear that the procedure would also cause damage, and I just don’t have enough healthy liver to mess with.

The possibility of receiving this therapy was my silver lining. Instead, it was a punch straight to the gut.

Mission Control:  We Have Options

Well y’all (pardon me, I’ve been in Texas too long) I know this update has been highly anticipated, so I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Before I get into the details… I want to get something crystal clear.  Many of you (with great intentions) have hoped and prayed for a miracle.  You are right: A miracle is what will be in order for me to survive this.  I have stage IV cancer of an incurable disease.  This means that I will be on some sort of treatment for the rest of my life.  What tiny miracles we are looking for are additional treatment options to buy me more time.

Now, with that being said, that is why we went to Houston, because about the time I got in the bike accident/excess insulin drama we also discovered that although the third type of a very expensive chemo was great at controlling my tumor markers, it didn’t do so hot at controlling my actual tumors.  In the three months I was on the treatment the tumors in my liver grew, and now they cover nearly 100% of my liver – which used to only be about 65% covered.  With the price of that old chemo, I often joked that I should sweat sparkles. (Okay, I might have said shit sparkles – I’ll let you decide which one you prefer to remember.)

Back to Houston. We met with a team of providers that only see and treat nueroendocrine patients.  I was reminded once again that science has not quite caught up to this disease and no one has figured out what causes it.  It’s just plain and simple bad luck.  My team in Houston plan to work together with my team in Las Cruces.  Some tests and treatments will need to occur in Houston while others can happen back home.  Right now, my chief complaint is the side effects of the medicine that is regulating my insulin.  This crap is nasty stuff!!!  There are some targeted and directed therapies that might be able to isolate those insulin-secreting tumors and calm them down (music to my ears).

My oncologist also informed me that he will be presenting my case to 20 of his peers at a team conference where they will discuss as a group the details of my case and make recommendations based on everyone’s areas of expertise.

So, to answer the single pain-staking question: No, MD Anderson did not have the miracle to rid this cancer from my tired body.  But, what I walked out of there with was many new sets of eyes, many more options, I am now entered into their research database to help advance medicine for the next generation, I have an appointment to go back, a relationship with an expert and the very most important thing I had almost lost… new-found hope.


My beautiful, sweet and kind cousin decided at the last minute to catch a flight from Denver to Houston since her bestie lives there. After a full day at the hospital I was greeted by her shining face at our hotel. I am someone that is rarely surprised and I was SHOCKED to see her. Thank you Nikki and Brandon for the collaboration… Love you both tons!