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My Battle With Breast Cancer: A Non-paranormal Post…

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Ladies, it is so very important that you go and get a mammogram. In December of last year I noticed that I had pain in my left breast.  When I started feeling around I felt a lump.  So, of course, I googled what that meant. Everything I read pretty much said that you wouldn’t have pain if you have breast cancer.  WRONG.

I immediately called my GYN and scheduled an appointment to have this checked out. She had me go to the women’s center and have a bilateral mammogram and a 3-D mammogram. After the radiologist looked at my films, she requested that I do an ultrasound that very day. So, the technician did the ultrasound and left the room. Minutes later the radiologist herself walks in to do the ultrasound herself. That, on top of everyone being so extra nice to me was really making me nervous.  Now y’all know, if you’re at the doctors office and they’re all of a sudden being extra sweet and kind to you, something is wrong. Very, very wrong.

On January 4 I met my breast specialist/surgeon who did an ultrasound and a week later she did a biopsy. On January 14 of this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.  I was eventually diagnosed with Stage 2B.  I also had a swollen lymph node and they did a biopsy of that as well. It came up positive for cancer as well. Ugh….  nooooooo.  So the game plan was chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and then radiation.  But on that day in December, I knew it was going to be breast cancer. I just knew it.  I was terrified but I kept trying to tell myself that it could be nothing. Maybe it’s just a cyst….

I know many of you understand how devastated I was.  The day I received my diagnosis, I dressed up because I was determined to have a positive attitude and I was hoping that I would be told it was nothing. I also made plans to go out and meet a friend for dinner. I was given the news and was checking out and they are handing me a booklet on breast cancer and other info and telling me who my oncologist would be and making an appointment for me to meet her.  I’m trying to smile and be gracious and thank them. Here I am being told I have cancer and I’m all trying to be polite over here saying “Thank you.  Thank you very much.”  In shock much??  You betcha.  It felt so unreal and it’s almost like I disassociated from my own body. I guess that was me trying to protect myself.

A lot of you have said that I have had such a positive outlook and have been so gracious and so brave. I suppose some of that is true. But I had many moments where I had complete meltdowns. When I got home that night after dinner, I think I cried for hours or at least it seemed like it. I was crying and having a hard time breathing and I have never felt so cold in my entire life.  The day I found out I was going to have to have chemotherapy? I was a mess! All of these thoughts are going through my head. Oh my God, my hair is going to fall out! I’m going to be sick all the time! I’m gonna look horrible! I hate being sick to my stomach and I certainly don’t want to throw up! And my hair! I like my hair!!!!!

The next day I had a trip. Can you believe I actually attempted to do it? You know, everything is fine. I’m fine. Seriously.  I can handle this. I’m strong.  Hell, I’m a flight attendant.  I can handle anything!!  Wrong answer.  Ummmm I got off of the trip.  Really, what was I thinking….

On February 27 I started chemotherapy. I had eight rounds of chemotherapy. Every other Wednesday lucky me. Exactly 2 weeks after my first round, my hair started falling out. Great. But I was pretty lucky. The first four rounds were something called AC.  This type of chemo is referred to as the red devil and it is the one that knocks it out of the ballpark. That’s the one that makes you lose your hair and get violently sick and all the other horrible things you imagine with chemotherapy. I was very fortunate because I did everything my doctor told me to do regarding my nausea medicine and even though I would get nauseous I never got sick. But dear Lord was I tired!  Horrible bone pain because they would place a Neulasta OnPro on me after every treatment.  This is what keeps your white blood cells up. Chemo destroys your white blood cells and you are very susceptible to infection.

The last four rounds were something called Taxol.  I literally wanted to die. I still never got sick to my stomach, but the pain was tremendous. Along with this excruciating pain that shot throughout my entire body I also got neuropathy. My fingertips and my toes became completely numb. It was so weird. The last three toes on each foot are STILL numb.  My last round of chemo was on June 5. For those of you that have had Taxol you know what that pain is like. Sometimes I couldn’t even walk across the room because the pain would shoot through my legs and I would fall.  It would hurt so bad that I would just sit here and cry. It was really hitting me then that I was a cancer patient. It was awful!  The pain was the absolute worst part of it but it also messes with your fingernails and toenails. They turn black or a sort of bruise color.  And they hurt.

Oh, and let’s not forget about chemo brain. Trust me, chemo brain is real. See, you’re not only super tired, you can’t remember anything. Thank God for Alexa!  It has been four months since my last chemo therapy treatment and I still have memory problems. I still have a bit of the neuropathy as well. Fortunately I’m getting physical therapy to help me regain my strength and help me with balance again. Neuropathy really messes with your balance. Nothing like sitting on the toilet and then trying to get up and you pitch forward, almost falling flat on your face.

My surgery went well and all margins were clear. Technically, I was cancer free but my treatments were not over yet.  Also, they removed 29 lymph nodes. I don’t know if I’ll ever have feeling in my left under arm or not.

I did 28 radiation treatments and today on October 14, 2019 I did my very last one and I got to ring the bell! They say radiation is much easier, and I suppose it is. But you get to go EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY.   Monday through Friday! It’s like having a full-time job! And it burns and hurts and itches and burns some more. Parts of my skin are actually black.  Oh, and don’t forget about the fatigue….  from February 28 until now and until I don’t know when, I have experienced horrible fatigue.

OK, so I talked about all the bad stuff and how horrible and scary it was. I didn’t exaggerate. But I will tell you that even though my hair started falling out two weeks after my first chemo, that same day my surgeon did an ultrasound and THE TUMOR HAD ALREADY STARTED TO SHRINK!!!!!  Ok.  So I’m bald now. But the tumor is shrinking and I am going to beat this awful disease.  Every time I got an ultrasound, the tumor was smaller. The last ultrasound before my surgery, it was significantly smaller and my surgeon couldn’t even find the swollen lymph node that had cancer.

During the surgery, they removed the tumor and they also removed 29 lymph nodes. Initially they only removed three, including the one that had cancer in it. That one lymph node had maybe just 2 mm of cancer left in it. It was then decided (and procedure) to remove 29 of them just keep things safe. Just a small bit of cancer  was left in that tumor.  When the pathology report came back it showed that all margins were clear and the cancer was gone!

After my initial pity party I was determined to be positive, gracious, loving and to be a warrior. Now, every once in a while it would really hit me and I would start crying. But I really wanted to present a brave face. It’s really hard to ask for help and it’s really hard to admit you’re scared to death.  I knew that not only God had my back but so many other people did as well. Every single treatment I went to I had make up on, a wig or cute chemo cap and a smile on my face because I knew that I was winning this fight! I refused to back down. One of my closest friends was with me for my chemo treatments to keep me uplifted, entertained, cared for and she was a huge support. Actually, we had a pretty good time during those hours because we would just laugh a lot. My last chemo, my dear friend Ana joined us and watched me ring the bell and celebrate!!  She was the first person I told that I had breast cancer and she was supportive and loving every single minute of every single day.  Love got me through this. It really did.

Yesterday I saw a really cute T-shirt I think I’m going to have to get that says “ breast cancer was all like “you’re mine” and I was all like “bitch, please…”

It has been a very hard year, but I won a battle that too many women have to go through. I am a breast cancer survivor. If you haven’t gone for a mammogram in a while or never had one, please go. If you’re scared, I’ll go with you. I don’t care where you live.  So many people reached out to me and all of you were there for me. Please know that I’m there for you. Again, if you’re scared to go have a mammogram, tell me.

All of my doctors and nurses are women. Strong, smart, committed and compassionate. They are my tribe. They saved my life and I will be eternally grateful.

I am a breast cancer survivor. I might have scars, but I’m alive.  I overcame breast cancer. I’m not afraid of anything anymore.

With love,  I am,

Lisa Shackelford

RIP Dear Fly Friends

I will never forget… 💔🇺🇸✈️

I do not fly on 9/11… 

Please keep those that have to fly tomorrow in your prayers… This is always a day filled with apprehension…  Fellow stews, please be extra vigilant.

RIP dear fly friends…

American 11 Boston to Los Angeles

Karen Martin, Barbara Arestegui, Jean Roger, Sara Low, Dianne Snyder, Kathy Nicosia, Amy Sweeney, Betty Ong, Jeffrey Collman.

United 175 Boston to Los Angeles

Kathryn LaBorie, Amy Jarrett, Amy King, Alfred Marchand, Robert Fangman, Michael Tarrou, Alicia Titus.

American 77 Washington DC to Los Angeles

Michele Heidenberger, Ken Lewis, Jennifer Lewis, Rene May

United 93 Newark to San Francisco 

Deborah Welsh, Lorraine Bay, Sandra Bradshaw, CC Lyles, Wanda Green

No, It Isn’t Always the Holy Grail; But Please, Give Them The Pickle

No, it isn’t always finding the holy Grail …   and in the world of a paranormal investigator that would be THE  photographic and or video evidence ever or a completely undisputed EVP  to prove beyond a shadow of the doubt that there is life after death and that paranormal investigating is simply not just a hobby.   But as we know, a lot of times our cases can be very quiet.  Now, for the client, that IS good.

The reason for this blog is I was just having a conversation with a friend who lives in another state.   She was on a phone call and there was this other voice that came in. She found it very strange and recorded it onto a Google file and sent it to a  local paranormal team to be reviewed. They basically blew her off. Their response?  “Im sure it’s just matrixing.”  Really?   And you gather that information by simply not listening to the audio evidence?   Sigh… So the moral of my story is this,  don’t do that. Be courteous enough to actually ask to have the file sent to you so that you can download it and listen to it.  I’m sure you’re busy  because, like the rest of us, you have a full-time job.  I’ve done that numerous times for people who have randomly emailed me. I’ve looked at a lot of photographs, yes many with orbs, just so that I could be fair and helpful when someone was reaching out.  But yes, you just never know what you might actually get your hands on.

Yep, I’ve received some strange emails, but you have to listen and have heart because you never really know what someone is going through … if they are going through something that is possibly scaring them, please listen to them. If you don’t want to help them, find them someone who will.   I wrote a blog a few months ago about basically taking your ego out of your investigations. I know, I know we love the excitement. We love to go to those haunted locations to capture evidence. But we have to remember that a lot of us said we started our teams to help people. If you were not willing to listen to people, how can you possibly help them?

In the training center at my airline, we teach our new hire flight attendants to offer the best customer service possible on top of all of the other numerous things that they have to learn. In addition to learning CPR, evacuating an aircraft, fighting a fire in flight, etc.,  we teach them that making the customer happy is always important. Heck, give them what you can. Just give them the pickle if they ask for it.

 

I Know Why I Investigate, Do You?

IMG_0842To my para friends… do you remember why you became a paranormal investigator? I do… It wasn’t because I wanted a TV show (truly blessed to be a part of True Ghost Stories) or recognition or a cool team shirt (sorry Michael Guerrero we still don’t have cool team shirts… but I’m working on that) or a radio show (ok, that was totally fun!)

I started investigating because I wanted to know the “why” of things. Or to maybe stop the why of things… I’m not sure… You see, I grew up in a haunted house in Meridian, MS and saw and heard some really strange things. I know what it’s like to be afraid to be in the house by myself. To be afraid to go to sleep at night. I always had to have a light on in my bedroom at night. I know the fear of being wide awake at night and having something you can’t see sit on your bed… My mother didn’t believe in ghosts and my didn’t brushed me off saying I had a vivid imagination. It wasn’t until I was an adult that he admitted there was a presence in our house. These are the things that immediately come to mind when a client calls and says “my children are afraid… how soon can you be here?” As a pre-teen and teenager I didn’t have anyone to turn to for help. There weren’t any paranormal teams in Meridian, MS at the time. That is why I do what I do…

Sure, many of us have booked public investigations with groups at well known haunted locations and have been excited about what we are going to see or experience. Let’s break out the equipment!!! I have a new Parascope 360!!!! But when it comes to our clients at private residences or their businesses, it’s different. The ego is checked and it’s all about the client… The client always comes first. What is second nature to us and what seems perfectly normal, to a certain degree, is possibly a very confusing and frightening time for them. So, let’s not get too excited, mmmk? First of all, they are more than likely embarrassed that they have called us in the first place. How many times have their phone calls started with, “I swear I’m not crazy?” Oops, that sounded like a lecture. All my friends that are seasoned investigators are nodding “yes” and I’m not talking to you… If you’re new, read that twice. 😉

And you know what? If you don’t get any evidence (audio, video, photos) of a haunting but find loose water pipes that bang in the basement or doors that are improperly hung that open and close by themselves, it’s still ok. You’ve still helped the client. Because 9 times out of 10 they really don’t want their house to be haunted. Closure always helps the client… OK, except for that one client many years ago who was mad when we couldn’t prove her house was haunted… There is always one…

I may have rambled… I’m horribly jet lagged… ✈️👻

True Ghost Stories TV Sizzle 1

Team Georgia feels very fortunate be a part of the new paranormal reality TV show True Ghost Stories.  We are 12 teams throughout the world filming our own investigations…  we are unscripted.  We want you to understand what the true meaning of paranormal investigation is all about. We do this from our heart. We do this for our clients.  We do this to help those on the other side.  We’re listening…

Please check out our sizzle reel and share!!!

Campy Antics at Scarefest 9

The Haunted Librarian

Campy Antics at Scarefest 9

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“All things eerie and mysterious” descend in Lexington every fall. Scarefest started in 2008. Held annually in Lexington, Kentucky, Scarefest is billed as the largest horror and paranormal convention in the United States. Every year Patty Star, owner and CEO, attempts to outdo the previous year. This year was no different. Built around the incredibly popular and financially lucrative franchise of “Friday the 13th,” Scarefest 9’s theme was “Camp Scarefest.”

Celebrity guests are the largest draw for attendees. Camping out this year were former stars from Friday the 13th movies, Rob Zombie’s 31, The People under the Stairs, Scream, and Children of the Corn. Rounding out the schedule were paranormal favorites Kim Russo, Jason Hawes, Chip Coffey, and new breakout fan-favorite Elizabeth Saint. Attendees have a lot of access with V.I.P. parties, photo opportunities, and chit-chatting at the…

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