Posted by: Teri Simon | 2012/06/03

Precious is Life, and You Matter

My friends, I dedicate today’s blog to Erin Lowell, wife of Todd Lowell, whom we lost late last month after a his most brave and valiant go-’round with what he called “Lung Gum,” and what I call Lung Junk.  Todd was a 40-year-old never-smoker, a war hero beyond what I could recognize in my blog space (seriously, he had a list of honors longer than a legal pad!) , a loving husband, father, dear friend to many, and all-around great person.  I only met him twice and I knew that.  Erin, I’m so sorry I didn’t learn of Todd’s passing until last week, but my heart-felt prayers are with you and your daughter.  I am ever here for you, truly, as I know are so many others, and I know Todd’s brilliant spirit will be with you always.  You are a remarkable young woman, and while the road ahead is not an easy path, it is one you will yet travel and along it, you will, indeed,  meet peace and joy again.  I offer you my love.


So you see why the title of today’s blog is Precious is Life and You Matter.  True statements, true stories.  I have had a really rough go of it for the past month.  Rougher than I wanted to admit even to myself, but things caught up with me this past week in a really ugly way (I’ll elaborate in a minute), and there is no more denial to be had.  As I slide out the backside of the pretty much worst off I’ve ever been in my entire life physically, I hold to the truths that life is indeed so very precious, and each of us matters, we truly do.

My story:   I think I let y’all know that I had had to have radiation treatments to my low back/hips last month.  Well, that started a chain reaction of some mighty bad ju-ju, and long-story short, I couldn’t eat for about 3 weeks, got severely dehydrated, couldn’t even keep down water, had a reaction to some medication (which I likely wasn’t taking properly), lost 25 pounds in about 2 months, had to have a Pleurex Catheter inserted into my lung (I get my lung drained at home every few days either by daughter Emily or by a home health nurse), and was so bad off this past Friday that I truly thought I was going to die.  Like not even kidding.  Ask Emily.  It was BAD.  REALLY BAD.

I got in touch with Leora, who was headed to Chicago for the annual Lung Cancer meeting, and she suggested I go to the Vanderbilt Clinic for labs and fluids and anti-nausea meds and breaking this horrible cycle of not being able to keep anything down.  Now, I have been going to Vanderbilt Clinic for over 2 1/2 years.  They know me there.  What you need to know about that place is that the folks there don’t just try to KNOW you there, they aim to LOVE you there.  Not even kidding a little bit.  EVERYone, from my friend, Johnnie, head of the valets, to Miss Fannie, to Miss Pam, to Victoria, to Chris, to the transport people, EVERYone was so sad to see me in such sorry shape, and couldn’t seem to hop to it fast enough to get me the care I so desperately needed!  All with love, as in, “Love you, Baby.  This is just a hurdle.  We’re gonna get you through this.  Love you!”  And it wasn’t just Southern style platitudes, either.  It is sincere.  Believe me, when you’ve been in the South as long as I have, you can tell.

I went to the infusion area and was given IV fluids and anti-nausea meds, one of which made me throw up.  (I know, right?  Only me!)  At that point, they decided to admit me to the hospital for the night for more IV fluids, more drugs, and an MRI of my brain.  Can I tell you that my kids are the best kids in the whole wide world one more time without y’all wanting to slap me silly?  They ARE!  Emily had been my care giver, while Taylor and Joey were sent to Houston to attend my nephew’s high school graduation and Eagle Scout ceremony (we were all supposed to go, but I was doing my downward spiral thing, so…).  As soon as I found out I was being admitted, though, I called them home to me.  Truth?  I kinda thought I was going to die on Friday.  I don’t say that lightly.  Ever.  So it was bad, y’all.  Really bad.  I didn’t want Emily to be alone, and I wanted a chance to see my other two one more time, so home they came a day early (yesterday).

But back to the tale of woe:  so I get up to the hospital room, plumped full of fluids and some anti-nausea meds (one of which made me throw up; not even kidding, and tell me, please, who the hell does that kinda stuff happen to?), and feeling about 100% better than I had been just mere hours earlier.  Emily had gone to do some dog sitting (the kid is pushin’ it, ya know?), and I was kinda bored, although praying without ceasing, and the only thing to do in the closet sized room is watch TV.  Except my TV isn’t hooked up.  Really Vanderbilt?  Really?  So the guy comes to hook it up around the time they take me down to have the MRI of my brain to make sure I didn’t have a glaring huge tumor causing me to throw up so much.  Ever have an MRI of your brain?  I’ve had many at this point.  They are loud.  They are long.  They suck.  And when you’ve been puking your guts out for most of about 30 days, especially in the past 24, and haven’t been able to hold down water?  Yeah, you’re kinda prone to throw up IN THE MRI , too!  Twice!  Yep. That was fun stuff for sure.

When that adventure was over, though, I was returned to my room, TV working, but too exhausted to care.  I refused to take anything by mouth, told my medical story to one hundred and thirty eight doctors, nurses, care partners, and God only knows who else, told ’em to medicate me while I slept, and went to bed.  And I prayed.  Did I mention I prayed?  Prayed for my life, for your life, thanking you for your prayers, for blessings, for my kids to be safe, to please let me be alive in the morning.

And in the morning…..I was alive indeed.  And feeling better than I’ve felt in a month.  And hungry.  And I ate a banana and drank water and it stayed down!  And at lunch time, I ate a chicken tender and some mashed potatoes and vanilla pudding and it stayed down.  Everyone was overjoyed with my great progress, because it was beyond a night and day difference.  Nobody was more surprised than was I, though.

But, no, it’s not all great news.  The MRI, while it showed nothing glaring that would cause me to hurl so much, did, indeed, pick up a new 1cm lesion in my brain, on the other side of the occipital lobe from where I had a lesion last year.  That means the talented Dr. Gius will be taking another crack at my keppy this coming week, making sure there aren’t more buggers in there, and figuring out how to shoot the barnacles back off.  And there’s still the lung catheter, which gets drained a few days a week and sucks, but will be with me for at least 5 more weeks.  And then my decision about what to do from here, which I’m able to announce to you today:  I am going to do another chemo.  I told Leora I wanted to hold off until later in the month so that I could have my 50th birthday on the 19th, but if things are moving at a pace indicating we should start sooner rather than later, we should.  Not quite yet, because, yeah, I’m still pretty much in bed most of the time, but you know what I mean.

But allow me to circle back to the title of today’s blog:  Precious is Life, and You Matter.  Every person I have encountered in my journey has either needed something from me, or offered something to me.  Hence, each of them has mattered.  And regardless of what they do in or with their lives, their lives are, indeed, precious.  We are fragile, we are dust in wind, we are raindrops, we are mist.  But we are.  And that’s worthy and good.  And we’re here to enjoy our time, appreciate our lives (and not abuse them), help one another when we can, be blessings, be grateful, share our gifts, bring joy.  It should NEVER take Lung Junk, or near death to remind us of these things, but all too often, that’s exactly how it goes.  I’m asking you, I’m encouraging you, to find the blessing in the ordinary, the precious in the mundane, the matter in you.

Peace on your path for the week, and as always, appreciation for your prayers,

Teri, The Flying Elephant



  1. I’m so glad that Erin has such wonderful supports and friends like you. Truly, that supportive network is how we ALL manage through this lung cancer mess. Bless you for being there and supporting people, even folks like me whom you’ve never met! I admire Erin so very much, and pray daily for her. You’re right that losing Todd creates such a huge void, but I do believe there will be peace and joy in her life again. Todd would truly want it for her that way, and I know he’s watching over her, and all of us, as we continue on our worldly paths. May there be peace for all of us as we go….
    Bless you!

  2. Teri, I had a fantastic lunch with Erin, Todd’s wife, today and of the many topics we chatted about your blog was mentioned. It is with great awe that I am reading your entries. Like Todd and Erin you seem to be an amazing woman surrounded by an equally amazing family and friends. I can not even begin to compare my lose of Todd to Erin’s lose of him, but am so thankful that his life connected us. I hope more than anything that I can provide strength for her when and if needed. You have met her so I am sure you could sense what a strong individual she is, luckily she is surrounded by such a supportive family. But at the end of the day that will not bring Todd back, that is her next big mountain to climb. And climb she will, she gathers strength from those she surrounds herself with and from an inner strength that burns within her. Although it will be challenging, she will get through this and it is with the help of blogs like yours that will help her.
    This is such an ugly disease and please know that you are in my families prayers. May God bless you and your family.

  3. What a gracious comment! Thank you!

  4. It’s hard to hold back the tears while praying and being grateful for you and all the wisdom you share so gracefully and honestly and always shining a light for US! My love to you and your Amazing family!

  5. You’re in my prayers, sweet Brenda. I hope things are going well for you!

  6. I actually lol when I read Kim’s remarks. You do indeed have unbelievable grace and are such a shining example for the rest of us. I’m so glad you are doing more chemo . You have so many people on your side and so many people praying for you….. Just hang in there and feel the prayers.

  7. Teri, you are amazing and show us all how to really live life. Amen to Kim’s comment, too. Your spirit is truly a gift you share with all of us. Love and prayers to you.

  8. thanks, judi! i think of you and your family so often. i’m blessed to have you in my corner!

  9. You are such an inspiration. May God be with you and your family. He will guide all of you. Praying for all of you.

  10. Teri,I just discovered your website and blog. I am in awe and amazed at your courage, attitude, humor,philosophy of life and wisdom. My family and I send you prayers,encouragement and deep respect for your ability to reach out to others. Thinking of you!

  11. Teri, thank you once again. I am praying and thinking of you and your family and will do my damnedest to keep your message in mind. You know what matters.

  12. I’d love to get together again, Dana! Miss you, my friend!

  13. I am so thankful you feel better. I hate you didn’t make it to the graduation, but crap happens. Glad you are eating and maybe when you feel better, we can get you something to eat. Thanks for keeping us posted as I have been really worried. Prayers and love my dear friend.

  14. You give me far too much credit. I do nothing alone- you all sustain me and make me fly!

  15. Dammit, but they really should put you in some kind of study at Vanderbilt about people who handle what you have with unbelievable grace. I feel pretty sure I would be, um, crankier that I usually am and incredibly pissed off. How can you be such a joy? Definitely a role model. (Somebody remind me of this if I get real sick, ‘k?)

  16. Teri, I am speechless after reading this. I love you and pray for your and your family.


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