Twila Lance

First post: Jan 12, 2021 Latest post: Mar 31, 2021
Welcome to Twila’s CaringBridge page. I’m her daughter, Allison, and I’m using this site to keep family and friends updated in one place. Mom, Tommy & I all appreciate your prayers and support very much.

Short version summary is that she’s been diagnosed with lung cancer. It wasn’t until 9/21/20 (the day we learned how much the cancer had spread) that she even allowed me to tell family, and only a small handful of people since then. I’ve honored her wishes, so if you’re just now finding out and catching up, I’m so sorry. I know there’s many people who would want to know sooner as opposed to later, and I’ve tried to talk her into sharing it more. But she’s a “little” stubborn (HA) so that’s been a bit like pulling teeth.

Below is a summary of summary of what led to her diagnosis and the events that immediately followed:

On 8/17/20 Mom had her regular six-month physical. A scan of her lungs has been a normal part of these visits for the last six years, to check the status of the histoplasmosis in her left lung. She had no symptoms of anything unusual in August, so it was a regular checkup as usual.

Her PCP noticed something was different on this scan v/s the scan in January, 2020, and he referred her to a pulmonologist (Dr. Pritchett). We went to see Dr Pritchett on 8/26/20, and he said the mid-lobe in her right lung was collapsed, but he didn’t know why. (She had no symptoms of that.) He said it could be anything from excess mucous to cancer, and he didn’t speculate beyond that. He said she needed to have a bronchoscopy to determine the exact reason.

He scheduled her bronchoscopy for six days later on 9/1/20. When it was over and she was awake, he told us it was definitely lung cancer. He said he took 10 biopsies, but he “knows what cancer looks like, and this is it”. He also said it was non-operable due to its location and other factors. He even went as far to say that while the biopsies would have to confirm, he was almost certain it was Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) and told us it’s the most aggressive type of lung cancer and that he wanted to get her into an oncologist ASAP. (He was correct on all of the above).

Her first appointment with Dr. Penley (her oncologist) was on 09/10/20. He had the biopsy results and confirmed the SCLC diagnosis. He made it clear that this was a terminal diagnosis, regardless of how far it had spread. He speculated that her timeframe was roughly 3 - 18 months, but said that was based on averages and he wouldn’t know more until we knew if it had spread.

He asked her about her thoughts on chemo, being clear that it wouldn’t be a cure, and would only buy time. She joked that Tommy and I would “make” her try chemo (she wasn’t totally wrong). Dr. Penley made it clear that it had to be her choice, because the chemo could theoretically kill her after the first round since it would weaken her immune system, so even a cold could kill her. And we’re in a pandemic that many people aren’t taking seriously for stupid political reasons, which makes it even harder to protect cancer patients on chemo.

So he said she couldn’t do chemo just because Tommy and I want her to, because it wasn’t fair to us to feel guilty if it killed her faster than the cancer. Super grateful for his perspective on that, as I then immediately said I wouldn’t pressure her to do it at all, nor would Tommy. She said she still wanted to try chemo, and that it was her own choice.

The PET scan and brain MRI to determine spread was 9/15/20, and the procedure to place her chemo port was 9/18/20.

We didn’t get the scan results from Dr. Penley until 9/21/20. Results were that it had spread to her liver and bones, but not her brain. At that point his projected timeframe (based on averages) was 2-3 months with no treatment or 10-11 months with treatment. She started chemo a week later on 9/28/20.

I’ll post specific prayer requests as they come up, but thank you in advance for your prayers in general. Mom and I had a great conversation about Jesus otw home from the appointment on 9/10 when Dr. Penley first confirmed that this is terminal. She reaffirmed her faith (not something she talks a lot about) and we talked about Heaven. Our conversation gave me a lot of peace, which is hard to find in this scenario.

When my dad died in 2006, every. single. time. I got in the car for at least a week, the song “I’ll Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns was on the radio or it came on after what was currently playing. And it wasn’t a new song, it had been released the previous year. It was exactly what I needed to hear during that time, and it was such a bizarrely obvious “God thing” it was almost funny. I genuinely believe Jesus was speaking to me through that song, and I have faith that He will be with us all throughout this too. Doesn’t mean it won’t be really hard, because it will. But thanks to Jesus, I have faith that we’ll see her again.

I’m sharing some verses below that give me peace, in case they help anyone else. Thanks to all for your thoughts, prayers and love. It’s all appreciated more than I can express.

John 5:24
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

Revelation 21:4
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall their be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

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