As Marketing Director for Dermagenics, I am currently writing the blog. My first thought for a blog entry, naturally, was to write about my dear friend Annabelle. Annabelle was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer two years ago, at the age of 32, and has been fighting an uphill battle ever since. As I write this, she is currently going through yet another round of chemo and radiation therapy. Her friends and family are taking turns bringing her dinner in the evenings. Annabelle’s current status is that of having stage 4 lung cancer, because she has solid tumors and the cancer has spread to the fluid in her lungs.Here’s a little bit of background before I proceed. I’ve known Annabelle since high school, we kept up through college, but really became close after college, as we both tried to find our callings as new college grads. I’m not proud to admit that I smoked cigarettes throughout high school, and tapered off through the college years, as was the fashion in those days, but Annabelle chose to abstain.
Our mutual friend Brooke called me 2 years ago with the bad news: “Annabelle has cancer”. I couldn’t believe it, as she is a model of good health. While the rest of us smoked and got chunky, Annabelle was always the good girl who went home early. She has always stayed in great shape, and loves to cook healthy food.
Over the past two years, Annabelle has gone through the following, after finding that she had three inoperable tumors:
-Lung collapse during her first biopsy where they had to give her a chest tube
-Various trials of five different chemo drugs, including: Tarceva, Cisplatin, Alimata, Taxotere, and Avastin
-Her father passed away of brain cancer, approximately one year ago
-She reluctantly stopped working. She is a second grade teacher.
-Frequently visited Denver, Colorado for a clinical trial that was unsuccessful
-Came down with shingles last January
-A few rounds of radiation therapy in addition to chemotherapy
Annabelle created a Caring Bridge Journal, to which I subscribed, so have kept up with her treatments over the past few years. Here is an excerpt from her journal that I’d like to share:
“I feel that this situation with my health has been slowly leading me to a philosophy (better late than never) that you can‘t control or predict the future. I’m not trying to be a guru or tell people how to live but I have realized that life without passion, difficulties, or overcoming those difficulties is not worth it. You can fight for things and may lose but at least you put in a good fight. I don’t want to live a life that isn’t filled with great love or one filled with regret. I don’t want everything to be easy because it’s true that those things that are the most difficult are sometimes the things that are the most rewarding. I will not say that I am grateful that I was diagnosed with cancer. I will say that I’ve learned to (sorry cliché coming up) throw caution to the wind, to put myself out there because I refuse to live a life with regrets or wondering what if, etc. It took losing my dad and being diagnosed myself to realize this and to try by it. I am so grateful for all of you that have supported me and loved me during this process and I thank you in advance for your continued support.” - Annabelle Buckner
Last November was the first “Lung Hill Run”, in Kansas City, a 5K that benefited the “Lungevity Foundation.” The second annual Lung Hill Run is scheduled again for November 6, 2010 this year. Annabelle recently wanted more people to sign up for it, so she posted on Facebook that, since she was already losing her hair, if 25 more people signed up for the race, she would shave her hair into a Mohawk. Annabelle was true to her word. See photos to follow.
The Statistics on Lung Cancer
Because of the stigma of smoking, people like Annabelle are not getting the treatment they deserve, and not enough research is being done to find better treatment for lung cancer victims. Annabelle’s strength amazes me, each time I read one of her journal entries, I find tears streaking my face. Her courage and the fact that she can still find humor in her situation, makes me realize the incredible degree of strength that people can find in themselves in the most difficult of situations. Annabelle, you are such an inspiration to all of us.
To learn more about lung cancer, and how you can help, visit www.lungevity.org
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