"I'm Deborah and Smoking Has Smoked This Body"
In March 2006, then 37 year-old Deborah Scott turned to the Internet to memorialize the loss of both of her parents to cigarette smoking. In closing she wrote, "I never want my children to have to go through what I went through." Sadly, Deborah is now living her worst nightmare, as one year later she received her own diagnosis of lung cancer. In her own words, this is her story.
My name is Deborah Scott and I am 38 years old. I sent in a WhyQuit Memorial in memory of my parents back on March 15, 2006. My mom died from lung cancer that spread to her brain when I was 22 years old. She was 52. My father died at 63 from emphysema. Their story is still on the Smoker's Memorial page if you'd like to read it (see #14).
Deborah at age 11 or 12 with her younger brother David
I am sharing my story in hopes that it can help motivate at least one person to really quit, or one person to never start smoking. I always swore I would quit and I really tried. But I started smoking at 11 or 12 years old and not only did both of my parents smoke but my sister and brother too.
My sister is three years older than I am and we would steal cigarettes, mostly from mom. I don't really remember much about that first smoke. It burned, it didn't taste good but, honestly, it felt natural for me to smoke. I think mom and dad both smoked a lot, about two packs a day.
Deborah smoking in July 2006
When mom found out we were smoking she tried to make us sick so we wouldn't smoke. She had us sit and smoke what seemed like an entire carton. "If you are going to smoke then by God, smoke," she said! I don't remember if it made me sick but I know it didn't work. Finally she gave up. She hated us smoking but she couldn't make us stop either.
I went to the doctor in April of this year. I have had carpal tunnel in the past, and it was hurting again. So, just to make sure that there wasn't anything going on in my shoulder as well, I had an x-ray.
A few days later I got a call. They caught a part of my left lung in the picture. I was immediately sent in for a CT scan. Two days after that I was sent to see a pulmonologist. There were suspicious nodules in my left lung, also some smaller ones in the right and my lymph nodes were enlarged. After a failed fine needle biopsy, I had a bronchoscopy.
On May 15, 2007 I was given the news. The diagnosis was non small cell carcinoma, or to be exact, adenocarcinoma.
Deborah with her 11 year-old daughter Ariana, after starting chemotherapy
I was also told my cancer is inoperable, that my only option was chemotherapy. I was dumbfounded. I was devastated. It was like, in my head, anyone looking at me was looking at a dead person. I'm 38. I have a 21 year-old daughter. I have an 11 year-old daughter. I just bought a house. My first house. I have a great guy, and a really great brother and sister. How can this be happening to me now?
I was about a pack-a-day Marlboro 100s smoker. It seems like I had tried to quit hundreds of times. I used the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, Zyban, Smoke Away, nicotine lozenges, etc, etc. I started with Chantix on May 9, before being diagnosed and endured a month of nausea and vomiting. But most times I would rarely get past a couple of weeks before I would again become a closet smoker or try to survive on just a few drags each day. And it's still hard, even with my condition. At times I struggle but I hate cigarettes, I really hate them.
Deborah's 21 year-old daughter Amanda and her nephew Austin
So next came the pet scan. It says I have stage 4 cancer. It has spread to the 9th vertebrae in my back. They're telling me stage 4 cancer is incurable.
I have had two rounds of chemotherapy. The first was horrible. The next a little less horrible. I am still working although it's really hard. I'm sick all the time. I'm tired. I have pains in my legs that force me to take pain killers just so I can stand long enough to work. I already have trouble going down the stairs to take my dogs out. I feel like I'm tens of years older than I am. And I'm trying to be strong but a lot of times I just want to cry.
Deborah with her younger brother David, June 2007
I've had my supervisor position at work taken from me. I still have my title and pay, but that's not really the point. The point is I'm sick, I'm tired, I'm in pain all the time, and I have cancer and emphysema. It has drained my energy, my health, and my opportunity to do things with my kids.
My relationship with Jeff is completely different. Thankfully he's very good to me, though we'll likely miss many many years together. I don't even know how many yet. I'm afraid to ask.
I had chemo on Tuesday. My legs are still killing me. It hurts to walk across the room. But I'm a little better. Tomorrow I go in for my bone cancer treatment. So I'm off for a few more days. I really need the rest. I'm just so very tired and really tired of not feeling good.
Deborah Scott, September 2007
And on top of all this, I went to the store with my daughter. On the way out we were joking around when the store greeter says to me, "Oh are you negotiating with your grand-daughter?" My grand-daughter? I look that old? I was so very upset about that. I guess I still am.
It's getting near impossible to work, but I have to hold on as long as I can ... even longer. I need my health insurance. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me, or pity me. After all, I did it to myself.
All I ask is that after you read this, that you take a good long look and decide if this is a path you want to take. Quitting smoking is easier than anything I'm having to go through right now.
I will write again to let everyone know what's going on, because I've just had my second of two treatments, with an added drug, as the first two didn't work. So my shot is, if this next CT scan shows the treatments are not working, I have no other option but to go to Chapel Hill to try some clinical trials. I hope you'll think seriously about quitting. Smoking isn't worth your life.
09/11/07 - It's kind of late. I'm having trouble sleeping. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I was thinking of taking a leave of absence from work. It is really hard to stand all day. I'm really not getting much rest and I feel completely out of control in everything. I've just lost any control I have ever had since being diagnosed. My job is a mess, my house is unbelievable. I need to be able to control something. So I thought, my house. Plus there are things I want to do before I go and I don't want to work until I'm to unhealthy to do any of it.
Of course, there's the fear of lost money if I don't work. I don't want to lose my house but there was an accident involving my fiance and his coworkers. One was thrown from the truck. He broke a bunch of bones and has a concussion. But the hospital sent him home as he has no insurance. So I got flashbacks of my mom and now I'm afraid I'll be out of medical insurance and broke and won't be able to get any care. I know I have options but that just terrified me. So now I can't sleep. And my feet are so swollen they hurt. Bouncing back from this round of chemo isn't that easy. I go back to work on Friday, and I'm not sure I'll be able stand for even 5 hours.
Also the pain in my legs doesn't seem to be going away this time. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, and I pray no one else ever has to go through it. Fear, pain, knowing you are going to die, just not knowing when. I know they are going to give me a time line or whatever after my CT scan. I almost don't want to know but then again I do. Don't know if it makes any sense, except that not knowing or the fact that your future is grim, is so frustrating and terrifying at the same time.
So that's my journal input for today. I may try to lay down again. Hopefully I can sleep without waking up from nightmares or pains in my legs, or coughing so hard I think my lungs may come up. Be nice to get some restful sleep.
09/17/07 - Just some thoughts. I can't sleep AGAIN, can't seem to turn my brain off sometimes. So tonight I can't stop thinking about what it's going to be like, you know, dying from lung cancer. What's going to happen? Am I going to just drop dead or will it migrate to someplace else like my liver or my head, and that's what will kill me? Will I just not be able to breathe?
I want to go to church, but I don't know which one to go to. And I haven't been to church since I was a kid. I was angry at God for awhile when my mom got sick and died. So since I haven't gone am I just going to be a hypocrite if I go now? I believe in God but I just haven't gone to church in so long ...
What's it going to be like to leave my daughters, especially my youngest? Is she going to be ok without me? I don't want to die. I'm not ready, though I don't suppose I'll ever be ready. I'm going to fight this cancer with all I have but tonight I just can't stop thinking about ALL of it.
What I wouldn't give to go back and never start smoking to begin with, or even to have been able to quit some time back, BEFORE I got or grew (or whatever) the cancer. I don't feel doomed yet, though I know I'm very sick and I'm really terrified. It doesn't feel real sometimes, you know, like a bad dream or something.
I know I'm sick. I know I have to fight. I know I could still live a few years with this, maybe longer. I'm young, younger than your average lung cancer patient, I have more strength and health than a lot of people with the same thing but that 5 year lung cancer survivor rate average kind of runs through my head over and over. I'm just counting on beating that average. I'm not ready to go yet, not for awhile. Ok, so that may or may not have made any sense, my late night ramble for the week, but maybe since I've written it down I can now stop thinking about it, right?
10/05/07 - Well, I have been working a lot lately. I am very, very tired. I had another CT scan on Tuesday. So, I am waiting for the results ... waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting. It was just a couple of days ago but it feels like forever. It scares me and sometimes I lose hope and think it hasn't gotten any better. Then sometimes I have hope that there has been change for the better. I am realistic. I know I won't get that call to come in so my doctor can tell me I'm cured. I know what I have is incurable. Not that they can't help. I know if I fight it I can live for who knows how long, maybe beat those five year statistics, but I know I can't be cured. If I had just been able to pull up my bootstraps and just quit sooner, or if I had never smoked at all, I maybe wouldn't be here where I am right now.
Today I had to leave work early. The pain in my back was so bad I couldn't even stand up straight. I had to hunch over. I went into my freezer at work and just cried. I don't know if I have done something to it or if the cancer has gotten worse in my back. I suppose those six 45 pound boxes of chicken I had to pick up didn't help anything. Too much heavy lifting where I work. I'm so afraid I'm gonna break my back. Can you imagine breaking your back picking something up? So now I'm going to try to lay down and get some rest.
On the plus side, I no longer need instruction for how to do a CT scan, and I can probably draw my own blood now. I know I can tell if a nurse is new at it or not. How awful is that?
10/11/07 - Well I have the results from my latest scan. It does show the cancer is a bit smaller, which is great! I have to go to Chapel Hill on Tuesday, the question is still, which chemo to use? My doctor says I have had enough of the taxol. This is the drug that causes all of the pain in my legs, neuropathy, etc. Taxol is a really nasty drug. He doesn't want to give it to me again but the three drugs helped some and there are no new cancers in my lungs, so that's good.
It is wonderful news and I am very hopeful but I cannot lose sight of the fact that what I have is incurable. Even my doctor reminds me of that. What's happening can help my symptoms, help me live longer, and have a better life but it isn't going to go away. Just want to make sure everyone knows that smoking can cause an incurable lung cancer as well as other nasties, that will not go away and will eventually kill you.
I am very happy about the CT scans results. But the question now is, taxol and carboplatin and avastin, or some combination of the three, or just the avastin?? The three got results, but will just two or the one? So Tuesday I will know what's going to happen next.
The bad news is that the increase in pain I am having in my back isn't good. I have been given a new pain med called fentinyl. Scary med. It is in the form of a patch that I wear for 72 hours then change. I use it along with the percocet, just so I can stand up straight and stand for more than 20 minutes at a time. So if the pain stays, we are giving it 2 weeks then I'll have to have an MRI to see what's what. I have cancer in my back too, so it may have spread or gotten worse.
I also found out I wasn't supposed to be picking up anything over 10 pounds. Didn't know that. There's not much stuff at my job that's under ten pounds. Heck, even some of the meats weigh 10 pounds. So what am I supposed to do?
I'd love to jump up and down over my test results but I know in the back of my mind, I know it isn't going away and I'm afraid to get excited over it. However, I still am a little excited about that, just worried about my back and how I'm going to be able to work with these limitations, or with this back pain, how I'll be able to work.
And then what do I go into work and say? I can work but I can't stand for more than an hour or pick up that piece of Virginia ham, or the bread. I won't be toting that chicken to the fryer either. What can I do? Oh, I can order, fill the floor as long as I don't have to take cases of anything down or out of the freezer, and I can bake the bread, but I can't pick up any of the boxes. So pretty much, I guess I can be present in the deli but not much else.
I don't get enough hours to use in the deli to schedule someone with me. If I did, I could just run it, order, fill, and help people but there aren't enough hours to have me be there as dead weight. Bad phrase but I can't think of another. So I'm gonna have to figure this one out. Not ready to take leave yet. But it seems I may have to.
10/17/07 - Well, it's October 17. Yesterday was my oldest baby's 22nd birthday and I never called her. I had a very bad day and I'm sure she is mad at me, well maybe. I cannot lift over 10 pounds and was told at work that I cannot work if I have restrictions. She said, "You'll have to take leave. I can't have you in here with restrictions." So now on top of all, I no longer have a job.
Now I get to worry about lung cancer, bone cancer, dying, insurance, my mortgage, electricity, food, oh, and bill collectors. But I guess I get an extended vacation, though I'll be bored out of my mind within a week. I am a tiny bit upset right now so I'm going to finish this later.
10/18/07 - So I have no job now. That's all I can think about since the other day. I can't sleep and when I do I wake myself up grinding my teeth, and they are so sore now. I've always been a money worrier. Now I am so worried, it's awful. There's nothing like being so sick and knowing you are going to die eventually, although sooner than most.
I know, everyone dies. But there's a difference in knowing your going to someday die and knowing you have cancer and ARE going to die and probably soon, and worrying about that, being sick, in pain and on top of all of that you can't work. And if you can't work, you can't pay your bills. It isn't fair to Ariana, my youngest. She shouldn't have to suffer on my account. It isn't fair and I should at least, if anything, be comfortable in the knowledge that everything will be ok and not having to worry whether my house will be taken because I can't work.
And all because I smoked.
11/03/07 - Well, I just sent in my disability paperwork for my job. We'll see how that goes. Right now most of my trouble is with my back but with the new added pain patch, it helps a lot. I have to be careful of what I do. I can't pick-up a ten-pound "anything" but habit makes it too easy to forget that.
I have my next treatments on the 7th and 8th, then in a couple of weeks another scan, probably an MRI on my back. Kind of worried about that. I'm trying to get as much of this taken care of before the end of the year, so I won't have to pay for it. Then the insurance starts over. One of those drugs they give is like $3,000.00. That's crazy expensive.
I'm doing ok. My back hurts but I've been able to get some much needed rest, and I've started getting my house back in order. I was just too worn out from working too much and it shows. So I'm working on that. However I can't remember the last time I didn't have a job to go to everyday, and I miss it and I'm bored. Stir crazy is fast approaching. Therein lies a problem. I don't have a whole lot of energy, so getting out and about and doing things everyday, or a couple times, is hard. A couple hours and my back is whipped. But I did go out with my sister today and we had fun. And my oldest daughter came to my house for the weekend, its been nice to have her here. I don't get to see her much. She's busy I guess, as most 21 year-olds are. So anyway, it's nice to have her here, to have both my girls.
11/04/07 - Finally booked a trip home to Las Vegas. I'm taking my youngest Ariana with me. She doesn't remember Las Vegas. Thought it would be a fun thing for us. I'll get to see my nephews, brother and sister-in-law.
I can stay at my brother's so that cut a lot of the cost out, but I did book 2 nights at Circus Circus, just for Ariana. She's never stayed at a hotel before and it's a trip to Vegas, and well, Circus Circus seemed fitting. I think she will really enjoy that. And that's what I'm hoping for, I wanted a special trip for her to remember, just me and her.
And I also wanted to be able to spend some really good times with my nephews. I love all three of them so very much. I can't wait to see them! I miss David and Jennifer so very much also. My brother came here last June when I had my second treatment. He took care of me. Dropped everything and came out here to help me. He's a very good man and I hope he knows that and how much I love him.
Wish my sister could come. A trip to Las Vegas is not the same without her. We have a lot of fun together. I'll miss having her there. But it's holiday time and she can't possibly get away from a grocery store during the holidays. So I'm guessing everyone now knows how excited I am to be going! Almost makes me forget how much my damn back hurts ... almost (LOL).
12/03/07 - Well I am back from Las Vegas and had a really great time with my family. I showed my daughter a lot of things, not as many as I would have liked. Had to leave out A LOT of stuff since I really didn't have the energy to do it. We did rent a wheelchair because I just couldn't walk too far. There's nothing like riding around in one of those. I was out of control, I guess, but it helped and I only got called "that MAN" a few times.
Rode my first roller coaster. We went to an amusement park they have there. I wasn't supposed to ride any of the rides because of my back, but what the heck, right! It was fun. I did ride one that really hurt my back, and was done riding then but it was a lot of fun. Back to the oncologist tomorrow for my bone cancer treatment. Waiting for my next CT to be scheduled, then we see where we go from there.
It has been rough trying to rest up from that trip. I have been really tired. It's like I sleep all night, get up for a couple of hours and go back to bed for the night. Tough getting going. But it's getting more back to normal now. Just wanted to let you know I'm back and I'm ok. I'll write again when I have more news.
Almost forgot. Went to get my prescriptions today from my oncologist. First thing he says was, "how was the trip?" followed by, "have you lost weight?" So I said, "I don't think so." Then I get the look and "we'll weigh you tomorrow." My reply to that is it's really not fair, that if I am going to lose weight none of it comes from my belly. Just my joking way of dropping the subject. I don't want to talk about it.
12/31/07 - Well, Christmas was really good, had a great time with my family. I made my sister a quilt and it made her cry. I thought she'd like it but didn't think it would make her cry.
On the 28th I had another CT scan. I was a little surprised though. I thought it was just another scan. But this time the doctor scanned my lungs, liver, bladder, kidneys, bowel, etc. I guess he's checking to see if it has spread. This is scary, really scary. I guess if it spreads to my liver I'm done for, I don't know.
They also messed-up my insurance. I changed my plan because the one I had last year was good if you weren't a sick person and expensive if you are a sick person. Well I ended up with the same plan. Maybe they wouldn't change it since I'm on leave. I don't know. All I know is it's going to cost me thousands and thousands more.
Cancer is scary, very scary, and I'm just waiting for things to go downhill. I know they will. I am feeling a bit worse. I can't explain it, I just feel worse and all the time wonder how much time is left. Cancer is expensive, much more expensive than I ever imagined, and tiring too. I'm so tired all of the time. I could probably sleep for days if I wanted. There's pain. It's worse in my back and now I get to sit, terrified that the cancer has spread to my other organs until my appointment on Wednesday.
I swear if I could take it back and never smoke I would. It's way not worth any of this, or even had I known this would happen, really, I could have quit but I didn't.
01/01/08 - Ok, so I just have to say this, that I relapsed badly. I let the excuse that I am already going to die get to me. I just don't know what the heck happened. It was right around when I was scanned last, feeling fear and anxiety. Like smoking ever helps at all with that. It only makes it worse.
So I have quit again and let me tell you it is so much harder than the last time. I just wanted to chuck it all and say forget it. But I know that I have a much better a chance at surviving longer if my lungs are not in worse shape because of smoking. I just felt that I needed to tell everyone that, to be honest.
I want you to know that just because I am sick that quitting did not suddenly become easy for me. It is as hard for me as anyone. It's only I have the added excuse that, well, what's the difference. If I quit or not, I am going to die now anyway. But I refuse to continue to smoke something that has essentially killed me before my 40th birthday ... maybe.
Just a few days and I was right back to square one, doing the exact same thing that is now killing me. I just can believe myself. But I am not doing it anymore and neither should anyone else. I know a lot of people hide it, like I have been. Don't. No matter the embarrassment or the looks or disappointment from those you love, come clean and quit for real.
01/03/08 - Well I just got home from chemo. It wasn't too bad. I have to go back Monday for more. In case the mere thought of chemo isn't enough to shy someone from smoking then the cost should be. I am so very discouraged, upset, angry and just plain sad. I still owe $3,000.00 from last year to my doctor. I will now be paying $200.00 per month to catch up. This is on top of the costs for this year, which are approximately $200.00 per visit, depending on what drug they use. Taxol is $3,266 per injection. Insurance covers 80% but what about the other 20% and I'm not working as I cannot at this time? Where's it going to come from? Besides all of the fear, pain, uncertainty and my mental health alone, the stress of not knowing what I'm going to do about everything else is almost unbearable, including kids, my home, food and medications.
The results from my latest CT scan are good, I guess. There is no change which means it's under control. There's no end to this medical nightmare. Just when is it going to be not under control? When is it going to turn? When am I going to begin to get worse than I am now? Because I will get worse. That is certain.
Right now, at this very moment, I am at my limit, I cannot possibly handle another problem, added stress, nothing. I am sure I will feel better later but right now I have simply had about all I can take. I don't know how much longer I will be ok, at least not feel terrible, how much longer I can keep it together. Nor what I am going to be able to do about my mounting bills, stress, anger, sadness and pain.
I just hope that I can help other smokers see how awful, sad and humiliating this whole ordeal is, how it could have been totally avoided had I not smoked or continued to smoke. Heck, I may have been a completely different person with a happy, easy, or even joyful life, had I not done what I did.
All I can hope for now is to be able to keep being treated for this disease, and be able to get the medication I need, spend time with my children, and be able to keep my home. I'd just like to be able to see my daughter graduate from high school, just live long enough for that. And that is sad.
01/09/08 - Well, I just spent the entire night not sleeping at all. I tried to sleep this morning but it was no go. I even tried taking a sleeping pill this morning. Wouldn't work. So I caught up on all my emails, finally.
Even though I didn't sleep I still get up in pain and am stiff. It's a morning ritual: sit on the edge of my bed, take a pain pill, work up the nerve to stand, walk very slowly and stiffly to make my coffee, then sit down with it until I feel I have loosened up enough to move. Then I can loosen up the rest of the way.
This stiffness and pain is in every place possible in my body, my bones, joints, ribs, forearms, shins, everywhere. Now I know I really wouldn't be able to hold a job. I'd be fired for being late because I can't move for three hours upon waking. Thought maybe its my bed. So I thought I might try one of those memory foam pads you put on your mattress, have a king size bed. The one I've heard about costs like $300.00. I don't know. Seems like a lot of money for me to blow trying something that may very well not help. But maybe it will, I haven't decided.
I just wanted to let you all know I enjoy hearing from you. I got lost in my mail, but its caught up. So write me if you want or need to. I'm here to help you all and I promise not to take forever to get back to you. I promise.
Other than that, the TIRED is back in full swing, along with aches in my chest rib cage. Right about now I look like someone injected me with so much fluid, it's going to start ooooozzzzzzing out any second. Makes it hard to walk or use my hands for anything. Just one of those thing s that happen sometimes. And it is now difficult to walk to the street to check my mail. I will tell you this, a wonderful thing that happened to me. The store where I worked, Food Lion, where I ran the deli, before the store I just left (basically one store back), I should never have left it but the new one was just 7 minutes from my house. I had been driving an hour each way every day. Still it was a mistake to leave. I never felt so out of place, disliked and unwelcome anywhere as this last job, which was taken away from me because I have cancer.
Anyways, Food Lion called me to come over. I have a lot of good friends there and good customers, they were the best. They had gotten together and put donation jars on the registers and did some other stuff. They just wrote on them that I was the old deli manager, was out of work because of my lung cancer, and could anyone help out. They had those jars up there for a couple of weeks and those wonderful people collected $774.00 for me, so that I'd have money for Christmas and stuff this year. I had to tell you about it because, I swear, I have never in my life, until that moment felt so loved by so many people.
So maybe if you know someone in your area that needs help, this is an idea. And I never felt better in all my life. I'll never forget that. Even the customers remembered me and that meant a lot to me. So needless to say my kids had a good Christmas and I loved it. Seems I shared that story in a strange place but I had to tell you about it. It meant so much to me.
01/11/08 - Well yesterday I went looking at new beds. I wasn't going to buy one because, good Lord, the prices on those things. What I was doing was, I don't know, trying to figure out if there was a bed that I could actually be comfortable in, one where I could turn over without my kids waking me up asking if I'm ok because I'm crying in my sleep, I guess. I had been thinking about buying one of those memory foam mattress pads. I might still but I don't think I'd be able to get up if I had one, I wouldn't be able to get out of it.
I've learned that chemo on top of the bone cancer can, like rheumatoid arthritis, cause pains all over including where there aren't joints and stiffness. I can't roll over in bed or pull my arms over my head or to the side. It just really is so very painful, I can't explain. This may also be a contributor to my insomnia of late. I take sleeping pills and still cannot sleep. I will either fall asleep only to wake up an hour later or not be able to fall asleep at all, all night. I'm exhausted, physically and mentally. I'm thinking of maybe talking to someone, maybe that would help.
I did finally go to church. I may have already told you that. My memory is kinda sketchy, no more than most people's though.
01/14/08 - Today has been pretty good. I have slept well at least for a couple of nights since I got a new bed. This is so very nice. I found a site with a support group and there seems to be some very nice people there. I also had a chance to read some information on pain meds. I'll speak to my doctor about pain management tomorrow. I realize that I'll probably be in pain of some measure, whether on a 10 scale its some days 3 or some days 7, some degree of pain. But I don't have to be uncomfortable. And pain, minor or major, wears you down. I would like to be able to move around better and the new bed has helped. So hopefully that will get better.
I've also been trying to start some hobby. The quilt I made my sister turned out pretty good so I'm going to make another one. I've been trying to keep my mind off of smoking. It's been hard but I'm trying. There's always that little voice in the back of my head saying well it doesn't even matter, the damage is done. I know that's not true, but still it's there.
And of course, I'm trying to keep my mind from dwelling lately on the cancer. That is also hard. You don't want to think about it but you can't help but think about it. Like a vicious circle, I have lung cancer, I'm going to die. Then, no I am not going to die, I could live for years and years with this, around and around.
Keeping your head up, and worrying at the same time is not easy. You can't let the cancer take over your life but you can't get away from it either, and no matter how happy you try to be it's always in the back of your mind, picking and nagging and reminding you that you are sick. I look in the mirror and I don't see me anymore. I look old. I'm not unattractive but I look old, older than I am and these days I look haggard. Matter of fact, I looked in the mirror and said geeze, you look like a hag.
My hair is right at the point where it just looks ridiculous. I have some hair but I'm wearing my bandanna anyways because it's bad hair. Ok, so now I have written out my nasty feelings and thoughts for the day, and I actually feel a little better. It'll all be ok, I am ok. I was thinking of dying my hair some really strange colors, maybe some pinks and blues. You can't do that in the real world. Might be fun. And by the way, I AM SERIOUS about that. When I do I'll send some pictures. Never know when the hairs gonna go again. I think ill have some fun with it.
01/19/08 - So I'm sitting here, it's a brand new year, so insurance has kicked over again. Someone sent me some links on where to find help with the costs I have for my care. My last treatment, with insurance was $450.00. I still owe $350. This is how this goes, and the co-pays are a nightmare. But hopefully some of these links will lead me to some help. I can't tell you enough how expensive this all is. You know about the pain, the suffering, the constant fear. I've tried to tell it all, now I'm telling you about how it can destroy your world, pretty much in the blink of an eye.
You work for things, a home, a car,things for you kids, you know how that goes. Then you get sick -- lung cancer -- and your life revolves around the aches and the pain, the doctor visits, the x-rays, scans, the treatment, and the sickness from that. And the bills that grow and grow and grow. When will I lose my house? When will I not be able to pay my electric bill because I have to pay for this scan or that treatment?
I could try for Medicaid, but I don't want to. I know that they will take my house when I'm gone. That's supposed to be for my children not the government. So what do you do? So I'm hoping I can get help from the links I received. I'm tired and I don't know how those who live for years with cancer can handle all of this.
I also am going to go to a cancer support group for people with cancer. I think it might help me. There is a couple up at the hospital so I'm going to try that. Maybe talking to people like me with the same fears and stuff will help me feel better about me. Maybe I can find a way to make a path through all of this. Because right now I'm sort of just driving in circles. I haven't got any answers, least not the ones I want. And I have so many questions, about everything. When I answer one three more pop up. Sometimes it is just too much to handle. So support group, sounds very inviting.
02/18/08 - I have gotten some email, I guess I'm missed. That's nice to know. I am doing ok. I've been tired a lot, and having new pain in my shoulder area. One night it was so bad I woke up screaming. I also have constant headaches, not bad ones, just constant and achy. Here recently, I have been nauseous. Not really bad then all of a sudden I'm losing whatever was in my stomach. I have told all this to my oncologist and we are going to do scans to check it out, probably a brain scan and P.E.T scan, to look to see if my spinal cancer has spread to my shoulder and anywhere else.
But the head and belly stuff could be the meds, or something else, since I've been on the meds so long. The headache also could be the tooth I'm getting pulled Wednesday. I must tell you they wanted to do a root canal and crown. I told them to pull it. They said, "no you want to keep those teeth as long as you can!" I said, "ok." I laughed at that, really I did.
Then I changed it to an extraction. For one, I won't be needing that tooth till I'm 70. And, two, with my insurance it would cost me $1,018.00 to have it done. I cannot afford that with all of the med bills I have. And then my benefits for dental would be gone for the year. Pulling it, even with the "sleepy med" I need, because I'm a baby, it's only about $365.00. There's where we are these days.
So I found this article called "Pink Ribbon Envy" (here's the link) and it says exactly how I feel about lung cancer research. Because we have no advocates and it is a "smokers disease," it's like we deserve it or something.
Anyway, an article inspired by it ("Fighting stigma of lung cancer") says that the government spends $23,000 a year on research for every patient who dies of breast cancer, while only $1,500 per lung cancer victim goes toward research. The article opens by saying, "Every October, when my oatmeal turns pink, I get angry." It says it all.
So lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, prostate and colorectal cancer combined yet no money for research? It's like they're letting us die rather than risk curing us. What sense does it make to put ourselves at serious risk of a devastating disease that no one cares about?
03/13/08 - Ok, I had another pet scan on the 11th. It took from 1pm till 5:30 pm. Let me say first that they are scary tests, not the test itself but the reason. I'm afraid my bone cancer has spread. I'm not so much worried about the lung cancer. I know its pretty stable right now unless there are new spots the CT doesn't pick up. That is totally possible and scary but the pain in my back, at the site of the cancer, has spread. I feel it in more areas. It's different than your muscles hurting or when you've lifted something wrong. This kind of pain is really deep and always aching, sometimes more than others. But anyway, I now have pain in my lower back, between my shoulder blades (that area), near my shoulder blades etc and what's bad about it is spinal compression. This can lead to me not being able to walk. This is what I'm afraid of now.
So when you are having the scan there are times you know they have gone over an area and then done it again, not out of routineness but like they are looking at something. So now I'm afraid to go to the doctor. I am so very stressed out right now, you could cut it with a knife.
I will update once I have the results of my scans. I'm hoping for a brain scan next. Had one last July, so almost a year. Sounds about right especially with all of my mood swings and forgetfulness etc.
03/17/08 - I am so tired and I ache and I'm sick all the time. Right now I'm struggling so hard. I'm depressed, bad. I am to the point where my home makes me sad, my family, my dogs, every time I pay a bill or get out of bed, I just want to get back in it. I feel like I can't stand to be round anyone anymore, not because of anything they have done, I just can't handle anything.
I try to come off like I'm so strong, I can handle this and just deal but I can't do it. I can't do any of it. I just want to lock myself in my room and sleep or cry whichever comes first. I used to at least get up and go into the living room to watch TV. Now I'm so uncomfortable. I can't stay in my own living room. I've lost the TV remote so I just listen to invasion over and over and over. No I don't watch it, I try to sleep through the day.
I got a pup. She's gorgeous. I got her to help me have something to do, to get me back into life but right now I just can't. I don't even want them near me. Of course I am not neglecting my dogs. I take good care of them, it's just this feeling I have and I cannot shake it. I am sinking and I don't know how to get out. I had some trouble the other night, some unexplained pain that just made it worse. Right about now I don't know how things could get worse for me in my heart and my head.
04/30/08 - I was supposed to do this update a few days ago. I apologize for the delay but I had chemo and it's a new drug so I really have been feeling sick, drained and exhausted. I'm not sure where I left off last, so I'll just start from here. I am on a new medication, Alimta. The Avastin was causing some very bad side effects: headaches,chest pains and burning everywhere. I had a CT of my head, still ok.
I think I'll be able to handle the Alimta once the initial side effects calm down with treatment. The fun thing is the B12 shots. Those are fun. And am crossing my fingers that my white count stays up so I do not have to have the Neulasta or whatever it is in the shot. I hear they are very painful.
Someone asked me when I would be done with treatment. They have lung cancer as well. All I thought was "never." I have no end in treatment. And that is a sad thing because these treatments take a lot out of me every time. But I know I need them so I'll keep having them. I can't give up, there's no way. I don't think it's in me to give up. Hopefully this new drug will work as well as avastin did. I will have 6 treatments of this, I believe, and then another CT scan. So we will see.
Lately I am very tired and uncomfortable. I am doing ok. No other new problems. I do sort of feel like I'm not really sick. I know I am but it's like you wait for the inevitable sickness and it doesn't get really really bad. So it sort of never stops yet feels like it isn't real ... until time for the chemo again. Then you know it's real. It's hard to explain.
My brother and his family will be moving here next month. It will be very nice to have them here. They will stay with me for awhile and that's great because I don't get to spend time with all of them. Now I'll be able to. So this is where things are now. I'll update again. I just wanted to get this out. I know people are worrying about me and I want you to know I'm ok.
05/16/08 - Ok, so I've had some really bad times, some really excruciating pain. I actually thought I was having a heart attack a couple of times. I went to the oncologist. We scheduled an MRI of my back. I got the results back yesterday when I went in for chemo. The MRI shows another large tumor on my spine. So far it doesn't look like it's gone into my spinal cord (I hope). But it is causing a lot of really awful symptoms. They are so bad that I get them even if I change position, like from standing to lay down, or sitting to standing, or vice versa.
And also I cannot lay on my sides anymore. It is much too uncomfortable/painful. So my oncologist doesn't want to start radiation just yet. He wants to finish my current cycle of treatment first, then do a CT scan of my chest to see if this chemo is helping.
So we've switched my pain meds from fentinyl and oxycodone to MS Contin (which is morphine and oxycontin). For some reason morphine is scary to me. I didn't want it ( LOL). And he gave me back my percocet. We will try this combo for two weeks, and if the pain isn't better or I have worse symptoms, he'll call the radiation doctors and set it up.
The reason we don't want do it all at once if we don't have to is the side effects of each. The point of my treatment, at my stage, is to fight but it is palliative, we want me to be able to have some sort of life, with comfort, and be able to do things. All of the side effects can be awful, and that's no life for anyone.
What worries me about waiting is if it is starting to encroach upon my spinal cord. This can cause loss of bodily function, paralysis ... and some other fun stuff. So I have hit another bump in the road. But it's just a bump and I'll make it over it. I always do.
07/25/08 - Im sorry it has been so long since I last updated. I have been tired lately, and having a bit of difficulty with the tumors in my back. So sleeping sometimes alot lately.
I am about to have my last treatment in this cycle, and then a new CT scan and see where we are. Depending on what this one says, I'll be seeing a radiation doctor. Like I said, the pain in my back is getting worse, and sometimes my feet and legs below my knees are getting numb. And I can feel the tumors in my back from the outside, not really as lumps but I definitely know where they are.
As far as how my life is going, it's not too bad. I really haven't the energy to do much, but I try to get out and do something. I do love to get into my pool. I'm glad I got it this year. And sometimes the movies.
But for the most part I'd rather stay home where I can go take a nap if I need to. Sometimes I don't feel very sociable. I just don't have much to say, I guess. It's a struggle, anything in life is though.
As far as my lungs are concerned, I have less lung capacity. I get out of breathe easily. Hopefully when summer is over it won't be so bad, that's just me thinking the heat and humidity are making it worse than it really is.
But I'm doing ok and after my next CT I'll update again. Right now I'm just dealing with life, trying to be a part of it, and my home, bills, bill collectors, family, friends ... trying to be a part of it just like everyone else I assume.
08/30/08 - First of all, I want to say that I do try to write everyone back that e-mails me. But sometimes I get behind, and some e-mails get missed. I'm sorry for that and want all to know it's not intentional. I love all the mail I get from you. It makes my days and helps me feel better a lot of the time. So please do not feel like I've ignored anyone.
Ok, so I spent a couple days in the hospital. I have been having headaches that are like migraines, but much more painful and they come instantly. Migraines don't come instantly. They are so painful I cannot express how bad they are. So I had my head CT'd again and all is still clear, but we are still talking inter-cranial pressure. The headaches seem to come if I exert myself or bend over, times like that. There's no warning at all. I now have liquid morphine for the pain that I get that comes out of nowhere, like the pains that feel like a heart attack and the head aches. It does help, and some nausea meds that dissolve in my mouth for the vomiting.
They are sending me to a neurologist for the headaches but it's taking forever because I guess there are only four here in town. My oncologist wants a lumbar puncture to look for cancer cells in my spinal fluid. I don't know, maybe that can cause pressure too? My blood work is coming back off where my liver is concerned so I had a scan of my liver and there is a small lesion, but its too small to identify correctly, so we are going to watch it.
I've had some Murphy's Law going on around here lately, all the troubles with my head, and some other stuff and then of course I had a fire in my house, my computer room. So I at least I had the forethought to turn off the power and then I put the fire out. Most of the damage was superficial, I was very lucky. But it caused some trouble with my lungs breathing the smoke. We got the walls washed and had to paint them with Kiltz to seal in the smoke/fire damage, then paint again. I lost my whole window. I have not been able to replace it yet. At least windows aren't as pricey as I thought. They aren't cheap but they aren't outrageous either.
Best thing is no one was hurt and I only lost my computer. It isn't working right now. Thankfully I have my laptop. But my daughter isn't happy since I don't like anyone to use my laptop. And I lost some pictures, and my desk is charcoaled on one side, and a few clothes. It could have been worse a lot worse. And I've got replace that window soon. I'm air-conditioning Cumberland County, that's expensive. So yes, Murphy is hanging around my house. Don't much like it ha ha. Other than that I'm not doing to bad. I have good and bad days. Today is not too bad.
11/13/08 - I am so sorry for worrying everyone, I really do not mean to. But sometimes there just isn't anything to update on, so rather than give you all the soap opera that is my life, sometimes, I just wait. But I do now have an update so here goes.
I have been to see a neurologist, for some really severe headaches. I had an MRI of my head, neck and back. So far there is no cancer in my head or neck. That is great news. But I still have a nodule in the liver that is too small to give it a name (this from my last MRI). What they found on this one is that there's a disk in my lower back that is herniated. I've had pain there all along so this gave a reason. I also have a disc that is I guess herniated, or bulging(?)in my neck. It's putting pressure on my spinal cord. I don't have another appointment until Nov. 25, I think. I'm really not sure what they can do about that. I would think my spine would not be very stable with the cancer anyways. To open it and mess with it doesn't sound like a good idea. They can use medication and traction. We'll see.
The neurologist and my oncologist want a lumbar puncture, as apparently you can have cancer cells in your spinal fluid, that then put pressure on your brain. So I think that's next.
Not much is going on here, my brother was here they found a house not far from me and my sister o that's good, and we (my sister and I) decided it was my sister in laws turn to do thanksgiving dinner this year, we always take turns.
Jeff got laid off, so that's not good, but since he's home he can catch up on stuff here while he's out of work. Though I do hope that ends very soon! My daughter is doing well, having a lot of fun on the pep squad. She wants to do it in high school but I can't seem to convince her that she doesn't need to be a gymnast to be a cheerleader.
I am doing ok. I had a reaction to the last chemo I had and ended up in the hospital. They couldn't find a blood pressure on me. When it finally started to come up it was like 49/27 I think. I do know that was the scariest thing I've been through ever. I really was terrified. So I cannot have carboplatin. Funny thing is I've had it before and that was with the first chemo I had.
So I've been on a break from chemo for like a month. It's nice because I got to the point I feel pretty odd, and it wasn't time for chemo again! We are waiting on what the neurologist wants to do before we start again, so once I go in to see him I'll have a new update.
I can write an update sooner, and more often but I just didn't think I should dump all of my boring life issues on everyone. So if you all want more updates, let John know, and I will.
Thank you all for thinking of me and for all of your prayers, I need them all and am very grateful.
12/26/08 - I have been doing ok for a bit now. Since I had the reaction to the carboplatin I've been on break from chemo. We've also been trying to figure out the headaches I've had lately. So far no reasons yet. So far it looks like there's no cancer in my brain, so that's always good news to hear. I did just have an MRA which is a MRI scan only it checks the blood vessels in your head. I haven't been back to the neurologist yet on that one.
Christmas was great. I was able to get all of the things my daughter asked for. She only asked for a couple, though she did get more than asked for. My brother is here for Christmas for the first time in years, So we got to spend time with them, and my nephews, We ate breakfast and just hung out. It was a lot of fun. And very tiring too.
I'm going to have another CT scan in the beginning of January. Then well see what's what and begin treatment again. I've not had a treatment since September I think due to reactions. I'm feeling pretty good, except that I cannot breathe while laying down. It doesn't matter if I'm on my back, side or stomach. It feels sort of like someone very large is sitting on my chest. Wakes me up at night.
Also I have the same feeling of heaviness and inability to get enough air in when I walk for more than a few minutes and also having those terrible pains in my arms, neck, chest, back, head when I change positions (those are from the tumors in my back). Other than that, I'm dong very well. We'll see what happens with my next scan. Should be pretty soon, so I'll be updating again when I know what's what, and what drug I'll be on. I'll talk to you all very soon. And thank you for all the lovely e-mails and prayers. I appreciate you all.
01/30/09 - I remain on break from chemo. Not feeling the best lately. I can't breathe when I'm laying down. Shortness of breathe, stuff like that. Otherwise the break was nice. So we were about to start up the chemo again. I had a CT of my chest and they made me wait while the radiologist looked at it. This never happens so I knew something was wrong. The tech comes out and tells me to go to my oncologist's office. So I did. They had found a lot of fluid around my heart. I was told that your heart has some around it anyways, but if there's too much it doesn't work.
So he sent me to have an echo cardiogram. There was so much fluid that the back half of my heart wasn't working right. So I had to have surgery that day. They opened my chest and the sac around my heart, drained it and then inserted a tube to keep it draining. I was in the hospital about 5 days. Just got out a couple of days ago.
This is how it was explained to me. Sometimes like when you injure your ankle it swells around it to protect it. Well this is what my heart did. Except too much squeezes your heart, makes you tired, you can't breathe and stuff like that.
It could have been the cancer that irritated it, the chemo or maybe the cancer has spread there. I won't know until the test comes back from the lab. I'm optimistic about that. I think if it were positive I'd know my now. But I am ok, now. Very sore. Glad to be home for sure.
But of course on coming home, I find out I haven't had insurance since 12/28/08. Its a mistake I know but I have huge hospital bills now. I'm not supposed to stress but with this disease this is something you have to deal with too. So I'm telling about it. Right now though all the bill haven't been added, so far they're up to $31,000+. Make careful choices. And if I haven't e-mailed you back it's because if all of this. I'll e-mail soon.
02/04/09 - So I sent in the update Friday, I'm doing pretty well, healing up well, and now I find out that the fluid around my heart is cancerous. So I'm pretty defeated right now. Also, as I said, my insurance is gone/ screwed-up. My doctor prescribed me a new chemo drug, Tarceva, but I have to get it from the pharmacy. Since my insurance is gone, I cannot get it. I applied for Medicaid but I have to wait. I could get Cobra but I cannot afford it until my Medicaid comes through.
I'm not telling you all this to gain your sympathy. I'm telling you this because this is what happens, this is the reality of my choice to smoke.
I feel defeated, like a sitting duck. I have been off chemo for what, 3 months because of my reaction. And now I cannot get and it and its spread to my heart. Make wise choices. This could be you. I'm sure I sound pretty down right here. I am. I don't want to die. I feel like I will and soon, especially since I am not receiving treatment. I'm sure it'll all work out but it doesn't feel that way.
I got some emails wanting me to update, so here I am. I have been doing ok. Since my surgery I breathe better and I have a bit more energy which is great. I don't feel like sleeping 24 hrs a day! I am still a little short of breathe but I think that is to be expected.
I have been off chemo for months now and lost my insurance. I did apply for medicaid but I haven't heard a word yet. I know I told you all I could not get my chemotherapy since it is so very expensive. I want to tell you I appreciate all of the email I got from people during that time. I also want to tell especially two people that wrote to me, thank you so much, you are angels, and to let you know that I just got my Tarceva today! I am very happy about that.
Obviously I could not afford it. However my doctor, Dr. Mark, whom I love terribly, wrote the company because they have a program for people who cannot get their meds. So I was approved for a year of meds and I do not have to pay for them.
This is very important to know, because a lot of the drug companies have "foundations" that make medications available to people with low income, and help for people who cannot afford the co-payments. I'm just letting you all know this because I know people have been losing jobs and insurance. These companies can help. So please remember this.
And to those couple of people, you are angels and I appreciate you I just wanted to make sure you knew I did get my chemotherapy. I will let you all know how I do on the drug soon.
This will be short and sweet as I'm not feeling well at all right now. I was sick, really sick last weekend. I had finally had enough by Sunday. I was a bit upset too since I was supposed to be at the outer banks for that weekend with my sis and brother for St. Patrick's. Anyway, I had enough and finally gave in and went to the hospital. After a bit, I felt really stupid and silly for going since they thought I had a virus. They always think that though (LOL), right?
Anyway, they started over and found fluid around my heart again, worse than the first time. But what they wanted to check couldn't get done so I had to have yet another surgery the next day. They did a thoracotomy through my ribs. They wanted to used a video camera as guide to remove more of the sac so it wouldn't be able to close like last time but they couldn't do it. So basically they had to open me up and spread my ribs and do it that way. Very uncomfortable.
I also do not have insurance. They had to file Medicaid for me. Apparently my application was "LOST." I had just talked to my case worker a few days before I went in, so I'm getting the run around (LOL). But the hospital is helping me with that. I thank them for it. I have enough issues of the physical, emotional, etc kind to add yet another financial worry. So I've decided I won't. I won't worry. I try to concentrate on getting myself better. They'll still want money when I feel better too. Its not going to go away.
I am going to cut this off now, I'm sure you understand. I am drained and in alot of pain. So I need to get some rest now. I'll try to catch up my emails tomorrow for those of you who have sent me one. Thanks again all. I'm sore and sick but I'm still here. And I'll feel better soon.
I wanted to let you all know that I am feeling a bit better everyday since I got home from the hospital. I do have some trouble breathing. I suppose that's to be expected after two surgeries in a few days. The thoracotomy is the worst. That is the one where they go in through your rib cage to remove/fix whatever is wrong. Makes it painful to take a breath.
I do have one of those lung exercise tubes so I use that several times a day. I also am now thinking that things may not get better for me from here. That's not to say that I am giving up. But I do know that the cancer around my heart muscle is aggressive and I have to look at that honestly.
I also have been trying to figure out some sort of trip for my family. Something I can do with them while I can do it. Of course it's not going to be easy. I'm in the same situation as the rest of the country and I have limitations. I was thinking of a cruise. I've never been on one or maybe Disney World. I've never been there. Eventually I'll figure it out. I just think I want something special for us together.
Today I am going to the movies. That doesn't seem too draining for me, and there's a movie I've been dying to see. I'll have to take a pillow with me to guard my rib cage though (lol). I'll write more later. Talk to you soon.
I'm not really sure the last thing I talked about here. There's been a lot going on lately. You know about the fluid around my heart that won't seem to stop. I am on blood thinners for a clot in my lung. I started the Tarceva again. I was in the hospital again this weekend because I couldn't breathe.
I am now on oxygen 24/7. In a nutshell im not doing very well. I cannot be on another chemo drugs because of the blood thinners. If my platelets dropped I could bleed out. Basically Tarceva is my best chance to stay around a little longer.
I am dropping weight left and right but I've only been on the Tarceva for a week and a half so keeping my fingers crossed.
I'm also in the unique and scary sad position of trying to get things straightened out. I have to do my living will. I have to make up a will so that my wishes are carried out. This is all very hard. Much harder than I thought. Not really just a piece of paper like I'd like to make it.
I also am trying to figure out how my own funeral will be paid for. I've lost my life insurance because I couldn't afford it anymore, so that's out. Medicaid will take my profit sharing which isn't enough anyways its only like $5,000.
I don't want my family to have to deal with that either. No one has the money to pay for a funeral. I also didn't want my family to have to deal with that period I'd hoped I could have it taken care of to make it easier on them but it's not going to work that way. I don't know how its going to be paid for, or if I'll even end up with the kind of service I'd like to have had.
No, I've not given up yet but I must be realistic. I am not in great shape and if things don't start to look better soon, it's only going to get worse.
As I'm writing this it feels cold and like it's someone else. I'm not sure how to deal with all of this. It's different than knowing your sick. This has finality to it. Ok I gotta stop. I'll write more later. I'm getting myself worked up a bit. So I really need to pull it together.
SPRING LAKE, NORTH CAROLINA - Ms. Deborah Christine Scott, 39, of Spring Lake, died Thursday, June 4, 2009, in Carrol S. Robeson Hospice Center. Services: Memorial, 5 p.m. Monday in Gourd Springs Baptist Church. Survived by: Daughters, Ariana Bull and Amanda; brother, David; and sister, [Laurie]. Adcock Funeral Home of Spring Lake.
I am Debbie's sister, Laurie. I wanted to let you know she died June 4th, two weeks before her 40th Birthday, which we were planning just days before. This WhyQuit page was very important to her. She wanted everyone to see what smoking can do to you.
Her lungs had a blood clot so they gave her a blood thinner. It failed. She got several more and couldn't breath. She was unable to lay flat for tests. They said nothing more could be done. Debbie wanted to go home but the amount of oxygen she needed made that impossible. She was sent by ambulance from Chapel Hill to a hospice close to home.
I was waiting at the center to sign her in. The nurse came and asked when I saw her last. I told her about 2 hours before. She told me I needed to get to her room fast because she was actively dying. I RAN. She was gone. She fought until the very end. Also, the day she died she told us Dad was coming. I feel like she knew. It was too much for her the trip I think.
We are really struggling with cash for her funeral but I think I have it now. It has been really hard on the entire family. She was my little sister. My childhood family of 5 is down to 2, my brother and I. All the rest were killed by cigarettes.
Thank you to all the people who wrote her and kept in touch. It meant alot to her. Ariana is going to live with me. She has been very brave, just like her Mom. I'm proud of her.
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