Category Archives: Health

My Husband is a Cancer Survivor

While driving home from work on Colorado’s US 34 in terrible (as usual) traffic, I received two texts from my husband, Mark, that said:

“Wow…”

“They found a mass in my lung”

I read the texts and almost rear-ended the car in front of me after. I thought to myself, “A what? A mass?? My 29-year old husband could have a tumor in his lung … a cancerous one.”

At that point, I started to disassociate from reality and panic, so I quickly turned down a side road and sped home. That entire drive home felt as if it took forever to get home to him despite speeding down the country roads back home.

Mark in Alaska
Mark posing for a photograph in front of Denali, merely a week away from learning about the tumor.

See, we had just returned from a camping trip in Alaska, and Mark strained his shoulder picking up a bag. He went in for an x-ray at a local urgent care and came out with the discovery of an unknown, large mass in his lung (the size of an egg) that was situated in between three pulmonary arteries.

How could Mark have a tumor? Is it cancerous? What the hell is happening? These thoughts were circling in my slowly dissociating mind. After a biopsy, it turned out to be a non-aggressive, slow-growing, typical neuroendocrine cancer snugly sitting in his right lung’s lower lobe.

Example of tumor of the lung
An example of near the location of where the typical neuroendocrine tumor sat in his lung.

After many sleepless nights, three separate hospital stays that resulted in a total of almost three weeks, lots of blood, fluids and tears, uniportal vats surgery, and two surgeries over three months, Mark is cancer-free and recovering. Luckily, he didn’t need chemo or radiation, but the idea that this rare type of cancer was developing in him since his early twenties with no symptoms was (and still is) an absolutely terrifying thought.

We believe the turmoil has finally ended, and normalcy looks to be within our grasps again, but it was such a strange, emotional and deadening three months. It feels as if the Alaska trip we took in the summer was years ago.

The journey isn’t over as he still has to heal and regain his ability to breathe normally as well as take it easy to avoid any further mishaps. You can never truly prepare for such terrible, medical surprises such as this, but here are 5 things I’ve learned from the experience:

  1. The possibility that something absolutely terrible could happen during surgery
    I didn’t want to let go of his hand right before he was wheeled off into surgery, and when I did, it struck me that if one of those pulmonary arteries was accidentally cut, then he could very well bleed out, and I could very well be a widow. However, you must trust the doctors and medical staff to do what they think is best as well as keep your mind occupied while waiting for it to be over. The panic that loomed over me was too vast for me to even face, but luckily the surgery went well despite it being one of the most difficult surgeries the surgeon has experienced.
  2. Understanding how he/she feels about his/her body and situation
    When I was told that Mark has cancer and must undergo an intense and life-changing surgery, I felt absolutely useless and helpless. I tried and tried to act positive and somewhat normal around him, but in the end, he was the one who had to go through the procedures, stay in the hospital for days or weeks, and face the potential for reoccurrance. The best you can do is stay as strong as possible while keeping on top of those main priorities, such as bills, pets, cleaning and work. Gently remind your spouse that it is okay to let out emotion and stress in front of you and to encourage it.
  3. Physical and mental impacts of the entire experience
    It’s all said and done, right? Not so much. The healing process for lung surgery is delicate and long-term. Mark lost his right lung’s lower lobe in the surgery and can easily tell that he can’t breathe in as deep as before and gets winded easier. Understanding his new needs and limitations takes some time to adjust to especially since we’re both not even 30 years old. With patience, support and laughter, it makes it easier for them to retain control and adjust to their environment again.
  4. The number of people who care about you
    We all get locked into our normal routine of waking up, working, cleaning, eating, sleeping, etc. to the point of taking for granted your relationships with other people. After Mark was diagnosed with cancer, we had outpouring support from family, friends both near and far, coworkers and neighbors. It brought tears to our eyes when Mark’s coworkers donated money to help with future medical bills as well as using Meal Trains to deliver fresh, hot food to us on a daily basis. We were touched when friends would text or call one of us to ask how we were doing along with having neighbors offer to help with yard and housework. It opened our eyes to just how many people care about and support us while going through these absolutely stressful events.
  5. Life pre- and post-cancer and surgery
    Mark looks at life with a different viewpoint after his experience with these events where he is wiser with the concept of mortality, living life and overall love, which isn’t surprising. Getting back up to speed with work and exercise is going to be a rough, but not impossible road. After he completely heals, he wants to train to hike his third Colorado 14er (a mountain over 14,000 feet) next year as a goal … and I’ll be right there beside him along the way.

I hope this brings comfort to others who are dealing with a loved one who has a debilitating illness as you are not alone. I highly recommend finding support groups and legit research articles out there and not click on the first result that pops up in Google Search. My love and strength to you.

We’d like to give a shout-out to the amazing medical and nursing staff at Medical Center of the Rockies and UCHealth. Dr. Ronald Smith is one of only a handful of surgeons in the U.S. who can perform the type of noninvasive surgery Mark experienced. Thank you all for taking care of Mark and making him laugh during his long, long days and nights in the hospital.

Neuroendocrine cancer awareness

How to Temporarily Deactivate Your Social Media Accounts

If you work in the digital marketing or social media business for a living, then you probably became over-stimulated with social media at one time or another. Wanting to take a break from the online world doesn’t have to be black or white where you have to delete all of your content. Instead, learn how to temporarily deactivate your social media accounts and take a social media break!

To get a grasp of how much activity is occurring online at every given second, check out this amazing infographic … makes your head spin, doesn’t it?

Data Never Sleeps 5.0 is the fifth annual version of Domo’s infographic on what happens on the internet in a single minute

A vast majority of the population lives and breathes online material in some form or another. At the same time, it is an acceptable and healthy response to take a break from all of this online activity, as well—something I am currently participating in with my Facebook and personal Instagram.

Why do you need to take a break from social media? Here are a few, scientific-backed reasons that you may relate to, and, if so, you really should consider hitting that ‘Deactivate My Account’ button now!

Why You Should Disconnect from Social Media

  1. Feeling Disconnected
  2. It’s not surprising to discover that people who feel lonely spend much of their time on social networks in an attempt of ridding themselves of that lonely feeling; however, quite the opposite can occur:

    “Both being alone and feeling lonely are on the rise, with an even sharper increase in recent years. We interact face-to-face less; we gather less; we have fewer meaningful connections. Loneliness isn’t just a mental state, either; it has physiological effects, too, such as weakening our immune systems.

    Studies suggest that the “cause and effect” is reversed: People who are already lonely flock to social media. Any way you cut it, these studies generally boil down to the same point: Social media and loneliness are linked.”

  3. Unhealthy Competitive Urges
  4. Receiving likes, positive comments, and shares feels good, but perhaps a little too good. When you start to see a lapse in interactions fon your content yet others are receiving attention for what may be meaningless stuff, it may make your blood boil some.

    “Competition is in almost everyone’s blood, but many of us will fall prey to that drive to get as many likes, followers, etc. as possible — at least more than your friends. The real danger here is that we let it define our worth as human beings, which is obviously a bad thing. No social media post validates who you are as a person; so why do we stress about how many people “like” us?”

  5. Comparing Your Life to Others
  6. We’ve all viewed photos of friends and family where they seemingly have the perfect life: Caribbean vacations, perfect family portraits and get-togethers, success in school and work, etc. How does such broadcasted activity make some of us feel? Pissed off at, not only ourselves due to comparison’s sakes, but at that person, as well. Is it a coincidence? Not really:

    “While you might assume this effect of social comparison only occurs when you browse the pages of people you perceive to be more attractive, successful, etc., the same study found that the more time you spend on social media, the more depressed you can feel while browsing anyone’s page, regardless of whether you perceive them to be better or worse than you.”

  7. Point-Blank Addiction
  8. Constant social media activity can be overwhelming. Learn how to take a break by temporarily deactivating your accounts.Have you subconsciously grabbed your smartphone and typed ‘Facebook’ in your browser without even realizing it? Do you find yourself doing this second-nature action numerous times throughout the day? It may be time for a break!

    “You can absolutely become addicted to social media, and it largely stems from something called FOMO: fear of missing out. People are posting some of the tiniest details of their personal lives online, and we have to see it. The inability to quit social media has even been labeled “social media reversion,” and in a study where people were challenged to stop using Facebook for 99 days, many couldn’t make it past just a few.”

The above list is from the Bustle article, “4 Science-Backed Reasons To Take A Break From Social Media”

How to Temporarily Disable Your Social Media Accounts

Facebook

Locating the ‘deactivate’ button has become more complicated due to Facebook’s constant designs. However, it’s still there despite being tucked away under the ‘Legacy Contact’ option within the account settings:

  1. Click on the account menu button at the top right of Facebook.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Click ‘General’ in the left column.
  4. Choose Manage your account.
  5. Underneath the Legacy Contact option, you’ll see the section titled, “Deactivate your account.” Click on the link.
  6. Re-enter your password.
  7. You have to choose an option for leaving.
    You must choose one of these reasons as to why you are deactivating your account on Facebook.There’s also the option to ‘Out out of receiving future emails from Facebook,’ which I choose in order to avoid any and all contact from Facebook.
  8. Click the blue deactivate button at the bottom.

Instagram

Instagram’s ability to deactivate an account is way easier and upfront compared to Facebook, but you can’t deactivate your account from the app and have to go through a browser.

  1. Log into instagram.com on a browser either through your smartphone or desktop.
  2. Tap the profile photo in the upper-right corner and select ‘Edit Profile.’
  3. Scroll down and click on ‘Temporarily disable my account’ located in the bottom right.
  4. Select an option as to why you’re disabling your account, and re-enter your password.
  5. Click the button ‘Temporarily Disable Account.’

Twitter

If you deactivate your Twitter account, Twitter will automatically start deleting your account after 30 days.

  1. Sign into your Twitter account through a browser, not through the app.
  2. Go to your Account Settings, and click ‘Deactivate my account’ at the bottom of the page.
  3. Click ‘Okay, fine, deactivate account.’
  4. Re-enter your password.

Snapchat

If you deactivate your Snapchat account, it will be deleted after 30 days.

  1. Visit the delete account page in a web browser.
  2. Login into your account and click continue.

Pinterest

Temporarily deactivating your Pinterest account is also a fairly simple process.

  1. Login to your Pinterest account.
  2. Click your profile button at the top of Pinterest.
  3. On your profile, go to the bolt button.
  4. Click ‘Deactivate Account’ at the bottom of Account Basics.
  5. Select a reason you’re deactivating your account.
  6. Confirm that you want to deactivate it.

LinkedIn

At this time, there isn’t a way to temporarily deactivate your LinkedIn account.

YouTube

There also isn’t a way to temporarily deactivate your YouTube account; however, you can make your YouTube Channel ‘invisible.’

Temporarily deactivating your accounts doesn’t mean you can never return to them, but it allows your mind and emotions a nice break, especially if your online habits are becoming unhealthy and controlling. When you return, try to minimize your use of social media and realize it’s not the real world. Good luck, I’m right there with you!