Stage 4 is Not My Finish Line

Stage 4 is Not My Finish Line

Stage 4 is Not My Finish Line

4 photos of Lindsey W. and Pals The Milestone

This year, on December 18, 2023, I will be celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary. I will also be marking the anniversary of my first cancer surgery on the same day, in 2019.

It was just before Christmas, parts of the hospital were shut down and I was in a room with 3 other people, at times there were as many as 6. It was hard for me to keep track as I had my curtains drawn the entire time, but I heard them, and many of them were very ill and in constant pain.

I found this surgery to be the most difficult of the three I have had so far, even though it was the shortest. I had never been in the hospital before and I was very overwhelmed, I had not yet found my PMP Pals. I had found my way into the world of stage 4 cancer (and surgical menopause), little did I know it was just training for what was yet to come.

Physically I recovered well, I had been running to prepare for surgery beforehand, and when I couldn’t run anymore, due to the size of my stomach (they removed two football-sized tumors on my ovaries during surgery!), I had switched to walking on a treadmill at home.

The Butter Tart Run

The last race I remember doing before my cancer diagnosis was the Butter Tart Run 5K with my husband and a friend. I didn’t realize at the time I was already “with cancer”, which was the reason it was so hard for me to run, but we did it, and it was fun (and delicious!). I have attempted to run on and off since then. Back then I felt like whenever I started to gain some traction with my exercise a new obstacle would be in my way (hello hernia), thankfully I was able to remind myself how important movement was to me and how it helped me recover from my first surgery. I decided if I couldn’t run I could still walk and so I did, and continue to do so whenever I have the opportunity.

This strategy helped me as I had my first operation in May 2020, and then a second in August 2022. Both were Cytoreductive (CRS) with Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) surgeries. When I was in the hospital I was dedicated to doing laps around the hospital floor. During the second surgery, because of an outbreak of COVID, I did laps in my room pacing back and forth every hour that I was awake and physically able. When I was too tired I still moved, sometimes stretching my legs and arms on the bed, or if I was able, I would sit on the edge of the bed or move to a chair. I thought of this exercise as my personal training plan for the life I still had ahead of me.

I remember when I started chemo (March 2022) after my recurrence, it was really hard to keep moving. I didn’t move much some days but I tried. When I was able, I walked outside to get fresh air, sometimes I would just sit near the window. I always felt better when I moved, especially when I got fresh air but didn’t always remember that when I was sitting on the couch during treatments. Folfox was hard, it definitely made me cold so I had to wear gloves and dress in layers, I usually only felt sick for one or two days each treatment (I did 6 in total). My hair also got very thin so I eventually cut it short and wore a hat often as I was pretty self-conscious. The mental side of feeling and looking weak was very challenging. I had lost a lot of weight and muscle which I knew was contributing to my fatigue and the general sense of “Blah”.

Lindsey & Brent W.on a hiking trip in CanadaFast forward to 2023.

I feel even better than I did when I was first diagnosed in 2019 (no that doesn’t mean every day is rainbows and unicorns) and yes I still have cancer.
I have slowly shifted my way of thinking and now refer to my cancer as a chronic illness that can be managed.

How do I do this? I am resourceful as there is no instruction manual. I educate myself, asking questions and finding help from experts when necessary. I also continuously remind myself that my body will change as does everything in life.

I try to identify what feels “out of balance” with my mind and body. This is continuous and challenging, but I believe finding more balance will help me be stronger and more resilient.

I focus on my nutrition, eating well to give my body what it needs which takes lots of trial and error (nutrient-dense food to stabilize my weight and help my body get stronger). Sleep is a priority, allowing time for my mind and body to heal (there are lots of books and videos about why sleep is important).

Reducing my anxiety is a big one for me! I’ve incorporated meditation and breathing exercises as well as finding a good therapist and learning to express my feelings better (work in progress!)

Movement is a secondary priority every day. Walking (a lot!) — gentle yoga, pilates, or even stretching. Recently, I’ve started adding running and bodyweight strength training back into the routine again.

Last, but definitely not least, connecting with others (so grateful for each of my Pals). The piece I was missing when I began this journey. Everyone needs a support crew, especially when stage 4 is not your finish line.

Love your Pal,
Lindsey W

Hope Wrapped Up: Barad’s Blankets

Hope Wrapped Up: Barad’s Blankets

In March 2022, when Lindsay Barad packed for her CRS/HIPEC hospital stay, she thought she over-packed.

The one item that she didn’t bring along was a blanket and her first night in the hospital was freezing! The next morning, her father, Jim, stopped at a local department store and purchased two blankets for his daughter. He found this highly ironic as his business, Barad & Co, is a textile manufacturing company that produces plush blankets.

For the next week, Lindsay recovered in the hospital, wrapped up in those cozy blankets. They boosted her spirits, kept her warm, and helped make the sterile hospital room feel more like home. She found similar comfort with PMP Pals. Both have proven invaluable in establishing emotional resilience for living beyond a rare disease diagnosis like appendix cancer.

PMP Pals is partnering with Barad & Co to send Pals worldwide a gesture of comfort. Jim’s gift is his way of giving back to the community which has helped his daughter, Lindsay, as a patient, and him as a caregiver. Similar to our Bare Bottom Bears Program, Pals will send you a complimentary, cozy, plush blanket by mail, as you head into (or home from) surgery or other challenging treatment. This blanket symbolizes what we want every Pal to know: no matter what you are going through, you are not alone.

To request a blanket, email Lindsay at lindsay@pmppals.net. Include the name of the patient or caregiver recipient, mailing address with zip code, and phone number (if available). Out-of-country requests are accepted, however take a longer time to arrive. Limit one blanket per household..

After you receive your Barad’s Blanket in the mail, send us a photo and tell us how this Message of Hope lifted your spirits.

Send in Your Gut-Sensitive Recipes

Send in Your Gut-Sensitive Recipes

We all know that feeling – the Dreaded Belly Bomber – following an all-too-good-tasty meal. It’s bittersweet and frustrating. But what are we to do about a sensitive gut, the by-product of a transitioning gastro system post-surgery?
 
Some of us get a team nutritionist’s help. Mostly, we’re left to figure it out. Good news is you don’t have to go it alone because a bunch of Pals already have had success.
 
We’re looking for Pals recipes, meal ideas, and smoothies that are easy on the system and taste great (most of the time). They can be weight-gainers, belly soothers, or just plain fun for an over-anxious, deprived palate.
 
Send us your recommendations and we’ll compile another Pals in the Kitchen Cookbook for those in our community who are just out of surgery, adjusting to a compromised digestive tract, and experiencing food sensitivities.
 
Send us your best dish:
> Email your name, town & state
> Complete recipe with ingredients list and measurements
> Include cooking times or special pans needed
> BONUS for nutritional composition
> A photo of you in the Kitchen or the final dish
 
#GivingTuesday Kicks the Love to $25,000

#GivingTuesday Kicks the Love to $25,000

You’ll be hearing a lot from us over the next few weeks about how we spend your generous donations year-round, the programs you support, and the many patients and caregivers who have benefitted from PMP Pals – we’re celebrating 25 years of building emotional resilience and community!
 
Giving Tuesday marks the kick-off of our year-end 2023 fundraising season. Are we on your charitable gifts shortlist this year? We hope so! Our year-end goal is $25,000 – a third of our annual budget – to keep us connected…and we need your help getting there.
 
– Determine what you want to donate this year.
– Begin with a small donation on #GivingTuesday to help us build momentum.
– If you’re a one-and-done-kinda-giver, go all in, and make a one-time whopper gift. – If you’d rather pace yourself throughout the year, become a sustaining donor with an automatic gift every month.
 
Caregivers Guide Us Back to Life

Caregivers Guide Us Back to Life

Words cannot express the gratitude we have for our caregivers. Spouses, partners, siblings, parents, children, and friends step in to help us through challenging times laden with heavy physical demands and psyche-wrenching emotional waves. By their simple acts of compassion and practicality, we get well. Caregiving, short and long term, is no easy task. Recognize your caregiver’s support, sacrifice, and love with a Tribute Gift in their name to PMP Pals.

You can also make a tribute to honor yourself — we actively choose to care for and nurture ourselves on this journey, too!