By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family
Lung Cancer Awareness

It’s still October, but I want to remind you a few days early that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a big deal to me, personally, because lung cancer has affected so many people I have known and loved. Most of my readers know that my husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer almost exactly 6 years ago. not long before that, my stepmother died of lung cancer. We’ve had many friends who have been diagnosed with lung cancer. One thankfully is still alive and well. Next month, I will be posting a series on breathlessness. So I thought I would take this opportunity to share some facts and statistics about the most deadly cancer. Our Lung Cancer Awareness Story In October of 2012, Read more…

a shift in perspective

Today we’ll continue to look at resilience and how when things get hard, we can bounce. We will look at 4 ways a shift in perspective can make a big difference in our lives as we face cancer (whether our own, or cancer in the life of a loved one). Avoid seeing crises A shift in perspective doesn’t mean going into denial or sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich (which by the way, they don’t actually do). It just means that you reserve crisis mode for a real crisis, rather than situations that might someday turn into a crisis. Some people are natural worry warts. They do what a former pastor of ours called horriblizing. They find the drama in every situation Read more…

grieving flowers

everyone grieves differently, but people grieving often have a lot of similar experiences and feelings as they go through the process. This is a snapshot of my first month. The first month after my husband died was awful. I’d just lost my best friend, the person I did everything with, my business partner. We were together 24/7 and we loved every minute of it. Then, suddenly, he was gone. Maybe not so suddenly, since we had 6 1/2 years of cancer before he died, but it was still a shock to my system. Death always is. Trauma There was also a level of trauma that we all experienced, not just from the day of his death, but from all of the days that preceded it, Read more…

cancer survivorship tip

When people hear that my husband has survived for 6 years with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer they often ask me what our top cancer survivorship tip would be. So in honor of his 6th cancerversary, I have put together some of the best advice we have used and continue to use. Cancer Survivorship Tip #1 Get Educated I don’t mean that you should read articles filled with pseudoscience. You should find out exactly what kind of cancer you have and what the newest and older treatments for this cancer are. How can you expect this cancer to affect your life in the near future? One of your best resources will be your oncology team. That brings us to the next tip… Cancer Survivorship Read more…

Paperwork

Are you familiar with the different types of paperwork you should have in place when you have an illness like cancer? Today I’m going to give an overview of some of them and how we approached things like healthcare directives, wills, powers of attorney, and the POLST. Healthcare Directive Back in 2012, my husband filled out a healthcare directive. This paperwork has many names and is commonly called a “living will.” I recommend that everyone have a healthcare directive and that they fill it out while they are healthy. If you wait until you are sick, it is far more difficult to do because you will feel far more emotional about it, and likely overwhelmed. Because doctors had just diagnosed Dan with a terminal illness, Read more…

Fear and Guilt

Dan and I first met one another in a Sunday school class ten years ago. We had both been through painful divorces, so starting over was a bit scary. Still, it wasn’t long before we knew that we were meant to marry. It was a whirlwind romance! All too soon, we would find out that even the best of marriages can be invaded by fear and guilt, especially when you are facing cancer. This is a story I’ve shared before. It bears repeating because fear and guilt are things that most people struggle with, including those of great faith. Our friend, Rick Back in 2009, The bus company that Dan worked for offered health insurance to its employees, but the policy premiums were too expensive for Read more…

Book Review

Recently, my sister-in-law gave me a gift, the book “Tear Soup,” by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeLkyn. Many people had recommended it to her as especially helpful for talking about grief with children. So, last night, I read it to my 3 daughters, ages 15, 17, and 20.  It gave all of us some time to reflect on what we are all going through in the wake of my husband’s death, without the awkwardness that often accompanies digging deep into your emotions and baring your soul. Meet Grandy The story follows Grandy, an older, “somewhat wise” woman who has suffered a great loss. To deal with this loss, she makes tear soup. Tear soup is a beautiful metaphor for grieving, which is carried through the Read more…

talk to children about cancer

It’s important to talk to children about cancer-even with a “bleak” prognosis. My husband, Dan was stage IV, metastatic, when he was diagnosed. So, we have always been told that his cancer was terminal and that we were buying time. The best we could hope for was that he would be labeled NED, No Evidence of Disease (like remission). It’s especially difficult to talk to children about cancer when you are given such a bleak prognosis. Our Story One year into his treatment plan, Dan was declared NED (having no evidence of disease). This is a term used to describe what people think of as a state of remission in certain types of cancer. It means that the cancer is still there, it’s just too Read more…

Job's Friends

Have you ever heard the term, “Job’s comforters?” If you’ve ever experienced a tragedy, especially one with your health, you’ve likely gotten a dose of what Job’s friends dished out to him. Job was a blameless and upright man (Job 1:1) who got caught between God and the devil. Satan thought he could get Job to turn on God, but God knew Job’s heart, as he knows all of our hearts. He trusted Job enough to allow Satan to do his worst. So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the Read more…

Metastasis

One of the most frightening words a cancer patient can hear is, “metastasis.” We learned in the post, Cancer Cells: Juvenile Delinquent Zombies, that one of the reasons that cancer is such a deadly disease is its ability to metastasize, or spread from one part of the body to another. Depending on what kind of cancer the patient has, the most serious form is known as “metastatic.” How Cancer Metastasizes The place where cancer first develops is called the primary tumor site. From there, cancer spreads locally, invading nearby healthy tissue. If too much time passes between the emergence of the primary tumor and treatment or treatment is unsuccessful, cancer cells will break away from the primary tumor site. They then move through the walls of Read more…

Thank You Cards

My husband, Dan, died on April 26th, and his funeral was held May 4th.  Since then I’ve been tackling the task of writing thank you cards to the people who gave a gift in my husband’s memory or helped us in some way with the funeral. Because there were about 500 people at the funeral, this is a huge undertaking. I thought I would share some thoughts about writing thank you cards after a funeral, as well as a few tips. How long do I have to send my Thank You cards? Etiquette experts say that thank you notes should be sent within 2-3 weeks of the funeral. [1] It’s interesting to note that the timeline for thank yous after a wedding is far more Read more…

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