Last month, on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, to be exact, my husband, daughter and I had the privilege of being guests on Katie Couric’s new daytime talk show, “Katie”. She and her producers had apparently heard of our story as a result of the video series, “It’s Cancer, Baby”, produced by CafeMom Studios.

If you didn’t catch it, you can watch our segment here:

I have to say that the entire, potentially nerve-wracking, experience was a good one from start to finish. Katie’s producer, Donna Bass, contacted me a few months earlier for a pre-interview, and I felt comfortable right away. She, Ashley Reynolds and Katie herself were the kindest, warmest folks. They made us feel at ease throughout the entire process, and Katie really is as sweet and nice as she seems on television. Read More →

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Being diagnosed with Stage IIIC cancer when my daughter was six days old, I have thought a great deal about what might happen after I die. Who will be the mother figure to her? Will my husband remarry?

Would I want him to remarry?

Of course, these questions are not unique to me just because of my cancer. Any of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow. The future is unknown. Just last week, in fact, a young mom and warrior in the cancer community died suddenly of a blood clot one week after the birth of her fourth child. This after successfully beating breast cancer and going on to become a tireless advocate for cancer research and awareness.

Try and wrap your head around that one.

Maybe it’s because I’m now plugged into a community where death is an all-too-frequent visitor. Or maybe it’s because the date of my first three-month post-treatment tests is looming. But death is on my mind a lot these days. My potential death.

My husband and I recently took our first beach trip with the baby since her birth. (Note that I said “trip,” not “vacation.” We learned that traveling with a baby isn’t really a vacation.) While on this trip, I caught myself thinking, “Well, at least I got to see that,” while watching my daughter or husband do something adorable or inspiring. Read More →

po6s7eei4oI think it’s pretty common, right, for new moms to be neurotic about the mortality of their precious little angel? To go into the nursery to check and make sure their sleeping baby is still breathing? To start to panic if things seem a little “too quiet”?

At least that’s what I hear.

But isn’t that supposed to wear off at some point?

Because for me, it hasn’t. Worn off. And I’m wondering if my having had a near-death experience with cancer might have something to do with it. That and the fact that, being part of the cancer community, I seem to see and hear about death a lot more than I did before.

Life just seems more fragile to me now, more tenuous.

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Hey, y’all … welcome to my new hub, a cozy little one stop spot we put together to house my past blogs and columns and videos, as well as provide a forum for discourse going forward.

I’ve been asked more than once why I’m doing what I’m doing. Why I would open up my home and my life to video cameras. Why I would blog publicly about private matters. Why I would go on national television to tell my story.

Well, it’s like this…

When I was diagnosed with cancer a few days after the birth of my only child, my priorities changed in an instant. Now of course this was partly the result of having just become a mom for the first time. But I believe this internal shift was primarily the result of my having received a potentially fatal diagnosis at age 44 … at a time in my life when I (perpetual late bloomer that I am) was just getting started.

My oncologist gave me a 50/50 chance at survival given the staging (Stage 3C) and aggressive nature of my cancer. All of a sudden, time became extraordinarily precious; and the trivial things that used to cause me such concern and angst became essentially meaningless.

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“Nashville mom Joanna Montgomery’s cancer story is compelling. Tomorrow, she will share it on national television as a guest on Katie Couric’s new daytime talk show, “Katie,” which debuted Sept. 10.

On tomorrow’s show, she opens up to the former CBS Evening News anchor and “Today” show host about dealing with surgeries, chemotherapy, cancer treatment and a teething toddler.  The show will air at 3 p.m. on WSMV-Channel 4.”

Full Tennessean story

poplni82o0Okay, so my last chemo infusion was just about three months ago. A month after that, I underwent a series of scans and tests, and they determined that, at that moment, I had no remaining evidence of disease.

Awesome news, right?

The best for which one could hope. Right?

So, why didn’t I feel more relief? Why, two months after receiving this news, am I still not feeling relief?

My hair is coming back, my strength is coming back, my energy is coming back … I’m feeling more and more like my old self. Yet, in some ways, not at all like my old self.

Now, I’m generally a pretty positive, glass-half-full kind of person, so my lack of enthusiasm about my remission news (I actually wanted to call it “alleged remission” just now, if that tells you what kind of head-space I’m in at the moment) has been bugging me a bit.

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poq384nowsWhen I was going through treatment for Stage IIIC fallopian tube cancer earlier this year, I asked my oncologist if I could skip one of my weekly lab checks in order to take a trip with my husband and our daughter. She said yes without hesitation.

Now, I had half-expected her to say no, but chose not to look a gift physician in the mouth. We happily took our trip to visit my husband’s family halfway across the country and had a great time.

I later heard of other cancer patients being given permission to take trips during treatment, even if it meant postponing an actual chemo session and later adding it back on at the tail end of their treatment schedule.

It didn’t take long for it to dawn on me that of course these cancer treatment teams would not want to deny a patient the right to do something fun or special unless doing so would seriously compromise his or her health. Not to be morbid, but it could be the patient’s last chance to see out-of-town family. Or swim with dolphins. Or see a part of the world he or she had always wanted to see.

Plus, and even more importantly, these soul-satisfying experiences of being immersed in love and beauty and adventure can do nothing but bolster a patient’s morale and strengthen their resolve to beat their disease. Right? Read More →