Liz Kreger: One Author’s Battle with Cancer

Barbara Vey -- October 29th, 2012

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  We’ve all seen the pink ribbon everywhere.  On food wrappers, clothing, jewelry, ornaments and even the NFL is sporting pink.  There are Breast Cancer Walks, Runs and fundraisers.  But, this horrible disease is more than a month long event for many individuals.  Here is one amazing author’s story of her battle with cancer.

 

I feel like an AA participant.  Hi, my name is Liz Kreger and I’ve been actively participating in the GCB (Great Cancer Battle) for the past seventeen years.  I’d say that pretty much makes me qualified to discuss the subject.  Over the years I’ve been sliced, I’ve been diced, I’ve been radiated and chemoed with inches of my life.  I guess you can call me a walking, talking breast cancer expert.

A lot of people seem to think that breast cancer is a disease that targets older women. Imagine my surprise when the biopsy came back positive.  Me?  Cancer?  Naw!  I was only 35 years old.  I led a fairly healthy lifestyle (if you discounted the occasional junk food orgy I indulged in), worked out regularly and there was no family history.

It wasn’t even a lump that I found, but a dimple.  Don’t know ‘bout you, but I’ve never had a doctor tell me to look for a dimple on your breast.  They’ve always touted “do your self-examinations and watch for a lump”.

Within weeks I had the biopsy (involving numerous four-letter words on my part), a mastectomy and scheduled for chemo … just to be on the safe side.

Mary (sister) and Liz Kreger

Mary (sister) and Liz Kreger

Fast forward seven years to where I about to hit the golden year where I would be considered cancer free … the holy grail for any cancer survivor.  You hit the seven year mark and you’re home free … considered cured, only having to go see your oncologist once a year.  Absolute bliss for anyone going through the GCB.  Then, out of the blue, my left hip began bugging me.  What the hell?  New tests were ordered and sonavabitch!  The cancer had metastasized to my hip.  This time we used radiation to knock it out.

I was carefully monitored after that and within two years, the little suckers were back again.  Now we’re into heavy duty chemo.  Six doses, once every three weeks.  This is where I lost my hair (absolutely everywhere), endured a yucky feeling 24/7, lost 15 pounds (which was okay as far as I was concerned), and this is the one and only time I tossed my cookies.  Peppermint is great for an upset stomach, by the way.  This was followed by weekly infusions of Herceptin in an attempt to keep the cancer off … but no dice.  Came back again and I went through a slightly stronger bout of chemo.  Pissed me off, too, because I’d just gotten my hair back.  Same deal as far as reactions go.

Now its 2012.  I’ve lost count of how many recurrences I’ve had.  Hell, I quit counting after fifteen.  I’ve been on more types of chemo than I can remember and am still undergoing treatment.  We’re to the point of recycling chemos that we’d tried in the past.  I’ve outlasted the oncologist that I’d had for over fifteen years (he retired) and am now working with a younger oncologist who has a number of pretty good ideas.  Don’t get me wrong.  At this point, being a stage four cancer patient, I’m well aware of the fact that my doctors and I are playing the “Let’s see how long we can keep Liz alive game.”  I’ll never live to see a cure, but you know what?  I’m okay with that.  I figure I’m gonna hang around long enough to give cancer a good run for its money … just because I’m a tenacious bitch.

It was while I was in remission that I began writing again.  I joined Romance Writers of America and completed a half dozen books, two of which are published.  Writing has become a part of my life … just as cancer has.  The treatments I undergo cause excessive fatigue so writing sometimes has to take a backseat to rest.  I also work full time, so between that, dealing with cancer and a family, making time to write can sometimes be a challenge.

I sincerely believe I’ve learned a lot about life going through the GCB.  Compassion for one thing and patience.  You learn to think of others and you learn to laugh.  I’ve always said that I have twenty minutes to feel sorry for myself … then get over it.  Life is too short to bemoan your fate.  You deal with it, you overcome the obstacles and you go on.  I’m a strong believer in a positive attitude.

* * *

Liz Kreger currently has two books published with Samhain Publishing.  Forget About Tomorrow and Promise for Tomorrow are romantic space operas.  She’s also part of a project with a group of very talented authors who put together ENTANGLED, A PARANORMAL ANTHOLOGY.  All proceeds are going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and to date they’ve raised over $11,000.00 with that project.  The short story she has with ENTANGLED is an offshoot of a contemporary paranormal which her agent is currently peddling and which hopefully will soon be published.

 

Bottom Line:  When ever I’m around Liz Kreger, I’m filled with a sense of wonder, admiration and tremendous pride.  I’m honored to call her friend.

111 thoughts on “Liz Kreger: One Author’s Battle with Cancer

  1. Kay Stockham

    I’ve had the absolute pleasure of hanging out with Liz on several occasions and like her interview reveals, she knows how to laugh. I’ve never met anyone who has as much courage and grace under fire. Liz, you are an inspiration to all of us to cherish life and not sweat the small stuff. Kick cancer’s butt. You can do it!

    Kay

    1. Liz Kreger

      I’ve actually got a really nice photo of the two of us at one of the conferences, Kay. Turned out pretty good. If I get a chance, I’ll forward it to you.

      I’m reminded of that song … listening to it even as we speak … “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Don’t recall who sings it but I’m making that my motto in life.

  2. Stacey Joy Netzel

    Liz may not know this, but she’s been an inspiration to me for years. We first met on the shuttle bus to the RWA National hotel in Atlanta, 2006.

    Liz, though I don’t get to see you much or talk with you much, I’m always so happy to see your smile when we cross paths. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Keep fighting the fight and I pray your smile is around for many more years.

    1. Liz Kreger

      THanx, Stacey. You gotta have a sense of humor when it comes to the GCB. Otherwise who the hell would want to hang around with you? :wink: Believe me, I’ve heard a lot of stories, most of which were upbeat, many down. Its the downbeat people that I find handle this the hardest.

  3. Sheila

    I loved reading this, Liz! I love your attitude and the fact that you share your strength with others. Can you believe we’ve know each other over ten years now?!! That attitude of yours is what I loved about you when we first met at Ann Peach’s aspiring writers workshop at RT in Reno.
    You are one tough cookie! And just as sweet! :-)
    Keep up the good fight! And keep writing!

    1. Liz Kreger

      Has it been ten years? Geez. I’m feelin’ old. Thanx for reminding me, Sheila. :lol:

      Meeting you at Ann Peach’s workshop was the highlight of that particular conference. I could see that brain of yours working … not on your writing so much as that’s when you came up with the idea of book trailers. Brilliant! You’ve worked so hard to make your dream come true that you’re an inspiration to me.

      Hugs to you for your loss of Victoria. I hate hearing when someone has lost the battle with cancer … but as I’ve always said and believe … cancer takes no prisoners. Not until a cure is found.

    1. Liz Kreger

      Okay, I should qualify that with “I’m a tenacious bitch with a sense of humor”. Something you gotta have. No, cancer isn’t funny … but you should hear some of the filthiest jokes I’ve heard from other cancer patients/survivors. We can get away with it. :cool:

  4. Liz Lincoln Steiner

    Like everyone else, you are a great inspiration. I’m honored to know you. And I’m extra honored to be part of Menage a Liz with you.

    1. Liz Kreger

      Heh … Menage a Liz. Sounds aweful, doesn’t it? Liz should explain that there are three Liz’s in our WisRWA chapter … so we’re Menage a Liz when all three of us get together. Lots of fun.

  5. Liz Kreger

    Thanx, everyone, for the kind words. I truly believe that when confronted with … let’s call this an “event of epic proportions” that people are a lot stronger than they know. I’ve had people tell me they didn’t know how I managed, but you know what? You do. You find the inner strength to keep fighting because I’m not gonna accept the alternative, which would be six feet under … or in my case, in an urn. Already told hubby that he may as well scatter my ashes in the cat’s litter box since she walks all over me already. He found that amusing for some reason. :lol:

  6. SueG

    Hi Liz – may God guide you & give you the strength to fight this disease – your tenacity is inspiring. IMO you’ve totally got the right attitude and your strength is amazing! Beat this disease not only with your strength but with the power of prayer. Hugs, SueG

    1. Liz Kreger

      Appreciate the prayers, SueG. I’m taking all that I can … believe you me. Can’t say I’m a particularly religious person. I have my beliefs which I think are strong, and I definitely believe in the power of prayers … so, thank you again.

    1. Liz Kreger

      Something else I learned is that you can never let your guard down. After seven years of being clean and to be nailed again? Talk about a nasty surprise. I was talking to a survivor the other day at a Barnes & Noble. She said she was three years clean. God willing, she remains that way, but I warned her not to ignore any odd aches or pains. My recurrence started out as a slight ache in my hip. Never even occurred to me that it could be a cancer return. Totally sucked.

  7. Linda Schmalz

    God bless you, Liz. You are one strong cookie and a huge inspiration. You put things into perspective for us all. Thanks for your blog. Hang tough, my friend!

  8. Debbie Kaufman

    Hi, Liz! I’ve met you at a couple of conferences. I’ve never understood where you get your energy at those events since most of the time I doubt anyone knew you were waging this battle. My dear mother-in-law fought the battle twice and succeeded. Old age took her at 90. These days my “Zumba King” husband participates in local Zumbathon events to raise money for a local cancer support help group in her memory.
    Blessings, and keep on showing that “C-bitch” who is really the most tenacious one :)

    1. Liz Kreger

      I’m glad it wasn’t cancer that eventually took your MIL, Debbie. I tend to take that a little personally.

      I really don’t know where I get the energy either, to tell you the truth. The stuff I’m on right now leaves me exhausted half the time. I guess I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring the fatigue, pain, etc. Just can’t let it slow me down. Too much to do.

      Keep on Zumba-ing for the cause. Love hearing when people participate in fund-raisers.

    1. Liz Kreger

      Thanx for dropping in, Dianna. Hearing all these lovely comments really does list my spirits. Frankly, there are times when I get down … but fortuntely those are few and far between.

    1. Liz Kreger

      That’s the main reason I’m more than willing to discuss my condition with people, Nancy. I think the more who are aware that this could happen to someone at the age of 35 and younger, the more vigilent women will be. Like I said above, this isn’t an old lady’s disease. It can hit any one, any age, any time. Men are just as vulnerable as women. I was surprised on how many men were wearing the bright pink survivor shirts at the Komen walk last month.

  9. Donna Marie Merritt

    Liz, I love your sense of humor and strength. My husband is a two-year-cancer survivor (peripheral T-cell lymphoma) and it was difficult to keep his spirits up (and he has lingering side effects from the chemo and stem cell transplant so some days are still tough). But we are incredibly grateful that he is here and stories like yours inspire us. I was his 24/7 caregiver and while it is not as hard on us as it is the patients, we get overwhelmed at times. Like you, I found writing helps. My book of poetry about cancer from the caregiver’s view was published last year. Keep up all the marvelous work you are doing on behalf of cancer research.

    1. Liz Kreger

      Kudos to you, Donna Marie. I think sometimes its the caregivers that have it the roughest. Yes, cancer patients go through hell, but then … so do you. You have to watch it happen and feel pretty helpless. I’ve been fortunte that I’ve never had horrible reactions to any of the chemos I’ve been on. As a result, this hasn’t been all that rough on my husband and daughter. Here’s hoping I keep it that way.

      1. Donna Marie Merritt

        “Helpless” only touches on it. Stew was unable to work or drive. I took him to every appointment, sat with him through every surgery and chemo and test and hospitalization for infections. I tried to coax him to eat as he had lost 50 pounds at one point. Sometimes I counted it a victory if he took two or three bites. I kept a dozen+ medications straight. I made arrangements for our youngest (a junior in high school) to get rides wherever she needed to be. No need to respond, Liz (you’ve been busy tonight!), but again, thank you for your inspirational story. I’m sure you do not know how many lives you are touching. One day we’ll put an end to a disease that affects so many—patients and caregivers and family and friends alike.

  10. C.H. Admirand

    You are an inspiration to so many people, Liz. I love your kick-butt attitude and am going to forward this article to a friend who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Thank you to you and to Barbara Vey for posting this article. I know it will help her. I’m adding you to my prayer list because I’ve never doubted the power of prayer.

    1. Liz Kreger

      I hope it does help your friend, C.H. I also do what I call my “Cancer Warrior” blog on Fridays over at my personal website. I try to keep a running record going of what chemo I’m on, my reactions, the results. I did notice that I forgot to post this past Friday. Bad, Liz … very bad. I do have to admit that there are some weeks where there just isn’t anything going on. I’m supposed to get tested for tumor markers next week, so we’ll see if I have something to report. At the moment, my tumor markers are hovering around 2,500, which is the highest I’ve ever been. Rather alarming if I let myself think about it.

  11. Ilona Fridl

    Liz, you are one of the bravest women I know. I miss seeing you all at the meetings, but being in a wheelchair, I can’t get around very well. I’m pulling for you. You’re always in my thoughts. Keep up the good fight!

  12. Lisa Kessler

    Hi Liz –

    You are such a warrior! I’m glad I read this blog today… My Mom is a two-time cancer survivor so I’ve seen the battle up close…

    And you are definitely a tough cookie!

    Thanks for sharing your story and keep up the fight…

    *HUGS*

    Lisa

    1. Liz Kreger

      Please do, Anne. :wink: Personally, I think they’re pretty good … but then, I’m biased. My dream is to allow myself to go to work part time and write part time. Right now, I work full time at a law firm as an administrative assistant. A little rough dragging my sorry butt outta bed some mornings, but my employers have been with me through thick and thin. You gotta love that.

  13. Debby Giusti

    You’re a hero in my book, Liz, and your courage is an inspiration!

    Supporting Relay for Life at a Pampered Chef party tomorrow night, which benefits cancer research. Anything to raise money for a cure!

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  14. Janet Dean

    I admire your attitude, Liz! And all you’ve accomplished while fighting this disease. You’re a strong woman. My cousin’s 12 year old daughter is waging a fight against Hodgkins Lymphoma. Her second round. Praying for a cure.

    1. Liz Kreger

      Ohhhh. A child should never have to go through this, Janet. Hugs to your cousin’s daughter. I can’t think of anything worse. An adult … okay, I think we can handle it better … but a child? Hate that.

  15. Myra Johnson

    Liz, your courage is inspiring! There’s a big pink bow on my mailbox this month in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. This disease hit close to home with my husband’s mother over 30 years ago. She was a fighter, too, and enjoyed another 10 good years before cancer returned and her battle finally ended. Treatments have come such a long way since then! Praying for continued advances and someday soon a cure!

    1. Liz Kreger

      It is amazing how far treatment has come, Myra. My MIL went through this over fifty years ago and is still alive and kicking. Between her and my SIL, I had my own personal support group.

      It’s amazing the perspective you gain when you’re hit by the big C. My SIL was hit about five years before me and while I could sympathize, I really couldn’t empathize.

  16. Ruth Logan Herne

    Liz, cancer sucks. But I’m so stinkin’ proud of you fighting the good fight. And tackling it again and again, you rock the biggest kahuna of all.

    Barb, thank you so much for having Liz over here today! This is one of the best inspirational stories I’ve seen. And a kick in the butt for us to go after the cure with a ferocity previously unknown.

    Stupid cancer.

    Bless you!

    Ruthy

  17. leighmorgan1

    Dear Liz, you are tenacious, no doubt, but you are not now (nor do I believe you ever have been) a bitch. What you are is AWESOME. And courageous. You exemplify the kind of courage few will ever see, much less applaud, but everyone should. You write, you laugh, you dance, you take care of your family, oh-yeah…and you work full time while still managing to be a great friend. You, my dear, are life. Life should always be celebrated and you do it with such grace and poise, people should be writing about you! You are easy to love and I am grateful you are part of my life. Stick around, damnit.

    1. Liz Kreger

      I just consider myself a bitch when it comes to cancer, Leigh. Love your view of me … I’m blushing. You gotta make it to the next meeting. I actually have hair now. Its short and scruffy looking, but its coming in … right in time for winter, which is unusual. Normally I manage to lose it around now. :lol:

  18. Nancy Haddock

    Liz, every single time I hear your story, I’m blown away all over again. You’re so right that a positive attitude is crucial. And laughter. Lots of laughter! Thank you for sharing your spirit!

    Light,
    Nancy Haddock

    1. Liz Kreger

      Sometimes I wonder if people are sick of hearing it, Nancy. I don’t harp on what’s going on with the GCB, but I find it is a huge part of my life … unfortunately. As I said above, it has made a big difference in my life. How can it not? I’m far more patient. More compassionate with others. I like to think more considerate. I still lose my temper and, at times, say dumb things. Part of being human, I guess.

  19. joysann

    Liz, you are beautiful, dynamic and inspiring. My admiration for you is HUGE! Thanks for telling your story, and sharing your hope and strength. I look forward to the next time we meet.

    1. Liz Kreger

      Hi Joyce. Saw those photos of you at the Ellora’s Cave conference on FB. Woo-Hoo. Baby, you know how to party. I plan to be at the next RT, so I’m sure we’ll see each other there. Looking forward to it.

  20. Brit

    This is very humbling and scary. I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Brest Cancer May of 2011, now over a year later, it’s one day at a time. I can’t believe you went seven years and then had it come back. Stay strong, my sister in battle.

    1. Liz Kreger

      That totally sucks, Brit. And you’re right. You gotta take it one day at a time. I’ve learned not to dwell on my condition and in fact ignore it most of the time. If you dwell on it, it’ll make you nuts. I’ve also learned to ignore the fatigue (for the most part), any side effects I do get and pretty much just get on with my life. Too much to do to let this disease take a front seat … for me, anyway.

      Sending positive vibes your way and know that you will overcome this. You stay strong, too, Brit.

  21. Mary Hughes

    Liz, I admire you so much. Cancer took my mom when I was 16 so I have a hard time reading about it. But when I read your story I was so impressed. You fight. You win each day. You are amazing. Thank you, thank you for sharing this.

    1. Liz Kreger

      That’s rough, Mary, to lose your mom at 16 … just when you need her most. That’s one thing that scares me the most. The knowledge that I can take a turn for the worse at any time and leave my 13 year old. I think that’s the only thing that keeps me awake at night.

  22. Tina Radcliffe

    Liz, Congratulations on being such a warrior. I too look forward to running into you and shaking your hand at an upcoming conference. You are an inspiration and a kick in the pants!! :) A very good thing.

    1. Liz Kreger

      Thanx, Tina. If you do see me at a conference, by all means, come on up. I’ve been to so many of these conferences that I mostly go for the social aspect of it. I love meeting new people.

  23. Kathryn Maeglin

    As a 2-1/2-year breast cancer survivor, I read this post with great interest. Liz, you are a fantastic inspirational to all of us, survivors and cancer-free folks alike. Thank you for sharing your journey and your wisdom. {{{Hugs}}}

    1. Liz Kreger

      Two and a half years, Kathryn? Congratulations! But as I say … be vigilent. Not to alarm you, but any unexplained aches or pains will need to be checked. Better to be safe than sorry.

      Survivors rock!

  24. Sheila Llanas

    I am feeling the tears after reading your post, Liz, and all the comments. I am 13 years out … I hardly ever think about it anymore. I do not want to think about it anymore. I cringed when people called me “brave.” Brave for getting knocked on my butt? BUT, you are brave!! :) (When I see you in November I might ask you about your hip. Any little ache and pain always makes me wonder … ) Hugs

    1. Liz Kreger

      You are brave, Sheila. Anyone who goes through this has to be. If only pretending to yourself. I have a saying that I have posted over my ‘puter at work. Not the exact words but “Courage is being the only one who knows how terrified you really are.” I think that goes for a lot of people no matter if they’re going through the GCB or not.

      1. Sheila Llanas

        Oh I love that saying! It reminds me of another — something like “Courage does not mean you have no fear; it means you carry on in spite of it.”

  25. Jamie Kersten

    Liz, you are an amazing woman. I knew just a small piece of what you’ve been through, but didn’t realize the full story. Thanks for sharing your story – it has some great advice about the kind of attitude we should have in our life. I’ve never prayed for a miracle before, but I would sure love to see one come your way! I’m sure not many people in your situation have such a positive attitude.

    1. Liz Kreger

      A miracle would be nice, Jamie. I hope that someday I’ll go into remission. We all have to have something to dream for and that’s mine. I got too much to do yet with this life and not willing to give up on it yet.

  26. Loretta Greco

    Liz,

    Since joining WisRWA, I’ve enjoyed your company and your input at the meetings. I knew you had cancer, but I had no idea your battle has been going on for so long. You truly are a tough woman and an inspiration! I pray for remission for you and less exhaustion from fighting the battle. Stay strong.

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