Well, the long-dreaded news arrived yesterday, and we are all still in shock. My beloved cousin Jamie Ann finally lost her long, tough battle with cancer. The two of us were always 'peas in a pod' in a great big garden full of cousins. From childhood playmates to teenage confidants and ever after, we were the best of friends for 50+ years. She had a special way of being friends with everyone, so fun-loving and lovable - always with a wicked little gleam in her eye! So many wonderful memories... one I will treasure always was a road trip we took just a few years ago; we loaded my aging mother into the car and headed for my brother's house, stayed about a week... singing songs and telling tales from "the old days" all the way there and back again. Only Jamie could've made that trip so much fun for my mom, and for me! Blessed cousin... part of my heart is gone with you. You showed us all how to love, and to cry, and to be brave.
A few months ago, Jamie sent a special e-mail to a long list of friends and family. I think she would be proud to share it again here, and I can think of no better tribute than to pass along her story, in her own words. (To see her full story, the document she attached to the e-mail, click on the link below.) She certainly did come out a winner.
June 13, 2009:
Well, I got somethin' to tell you all. It's kinda about what I been doing with my time, lately. First, let me apologize for not making it more public than I did. But, please remember this is a first for me. I was scared I'd make a fool of myself and cry. I made it... got a little teary, but not bad. As you have noticed I've attached a WORD document with this e-mail (see below -ed.}. It is a speech. My speech! Dr. Skinner asked me to prepare a speech for the American Cancer Society Survivors' Day Rally (part of Relay for Life). I've never done anything like this before. I had never held a microphone before in my life, let alone talk in front of a large group of people. But... you know me... NO GUTS, NO GLORY! So, I did it. This was supposed to be a speech about my journey with cancer. I turned it into a kind of "fairy tale." I hope you are interested. If not, TRASH IT! My next chemo visit is Wednesday. This one will be a nasty one. Please keep me in your prayers. The after effects can be pretty sickening! I love each and everyone of you. Truly, Jamie
17 Years on the “Yellow Brick Road” of Faith
My cancer story as spoken at the Survivor’s Rally
Relay for Life 06/07/09
Relay for Life 06/07/09
My name is Jamie Landrum, and I’m 56 years old. I live in Middletown and I have survived cancer for 17 years. Just as Dorothy in the story of The Wizard of Oz was picked up by a tornado and plopped down in Munchkinville, my “tornado” in the fight to beat cancer entered my life, picked me up and plopped me down at age 39 (that makes me a 17-year cancer survivor and still fighting the battle).
- In my story, the yellow brick road is prayer, trust, and faithfulness. This is very important in my lengthy battle. But I have to stay strong and stay focused on winning the cancer fight. It is my belief I will win this battle either way. My life is a book written by God. He knows the beginning and the end. All I have to do is turn the pages. As long as I stay close to the Lord and ask for His direction and trust Him, He will get me through. He is guiding me. I continue to stay positive knowing that as long as I remain on earth, I have people who love me. I also have people who love me that are waiting for me in Heaven. How can I lose? I believe the Lord is always with me.
- In this tale, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion have all been replaced by my Savior, the Lord Jesus. Again, He is by my side! When I was first diagnosed with cancer I was scared, as most are when they enter into this terrible forest of cancer. But without the arms of Jesus, I could not have endured, nor looked above and, definitely, beyond this disease. I thank the Lord for guiding me to my ever-faithful oncologist, Dr. Cheryl Skinner.
- My beloved, Dr. Skinner, I suppose would be considered Glenda in my story, always seeking knowledge and sharing hope in her bubble of oncology-hematology technology. She definitely is my wonderful, beautiful, fairy god sister. There is no way I could ever consider Dr. Skinner a witch… whether she be a good witch or a bad witch. She’s my bright and shining fairy god sister. Never a night goes by that I don’t ask the Lord to remember her and give her guidance and wisdom on how to deal with my illness and body. Can you imagine what she has had to deal with? I am not your average patient. I am a pre-menopausal cancer victim who has never been an average size female patient and at the time had no previous family cancers. Over the years, she has had her hands full with knowing which direction to take me. I realize her calculations on my weight and body mass and everything else that had to enter into the dosages of chemotherapy had to seem over-whelming at times. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for dealing with me and putting up with my battles. She promises me she’ll see me through the forest until I reach Emerald City (the cure) or else cross over to Heaven.
- Auntie Em, in my interpretation, is thought to be my wonderful mother, Cora Belle. She has been my rock. Throughout my journey into the wicked forest of Cancer, she has remained steadfast, ready to let me lay my head on her shoulder, listen to my latest ordeal, or simply saying a prayer for me in my fight. My brother, Barry, has to enter here since he has become my counselor in all this. It’s not easy for him to discuss, but since the death of my dear Daddy, I am forced to lean on him. In 1992, my family knew very little about cancer. Of course, we had heard of other people battling cancer and ultimately dying, but now I was about to enter into the fight for my life.
- Other characters, I must identify in this tale, are those weird little flying monkeys! I suppose those would be the different cancer diagnoses I’ve had to endure during the past 17 years. This is the waiting periods, the anxiousness, and the not-knowing what the diagnosis will be this time. Oh, those flying monkeys do raise their ugly heads at the most heartbreaking times. But, so far, I have endured. I have found that, for me, I have met with those dastardly monkeys about 7 times in my 17-year journey.
- I have decided Breast Cancer is my Wicked Witch of the West. What can I say? Scary. Ugly. Disappointing. Heartbreaking. There is nothing good about being diagnosed with any cancer!
- I’m a bit out of order in my list of characters, but I need to introduce the Munchkins. Those would be all my friends and family and those who don’t even know me but lift my name up to Heaven. It might just be a brief passing thought. But, the Lord is always listening. These wonderful “Munchkins” are my angels here on earth that encourage me and make me want to fight! I absolutely refuse to give up. These people are counting on me just as much as I am counting on them. I want to encourage them and you; too, that cancer doesn’t mean its time to give up. I want to live my life as long as I can in the most positive way I can do it. Yes, I get down in the dumps! But you won’t find me there for long. Some people might say I’m nosey. I’m afraid of what I might miss. I want to know what’s going on!!!! Yes, I have pain and days I don’t want to get out of bed. But, so far there’s always been a reason to get up and get moving. I don’t want to waste away in the bed. Especially, this spring. Hasn’t it been beautiful, and I want to enjoy it!
So let me tell you about My Journey through the Cancer Forest.
In July 1992, I found a lump in my right breast. I had never had a mammogram before. At that time, mammograms weren’t recommended until age 40. This is where the tornado began and I battled the first set of flying monkeys.
I met with my gynecologist whom immediately sent me for a diagnostic mammogram. Very soon after that I was seen by a surgeon whom arranged to perform a right modified mastectomy. Great results. No lymph node involvement. My surgeon then guided me to Dr. Skinner. The tumor size and being premenopausal threw me into Stage 3 Breast Cancer with an elevated risk for recurrence. Upon healing from surgery, I began eight months of six chemotherapy treatments. Thank God He saw me through these treatments with little discomfort and very positive results. At the end of these treatments I was cancer free. Thank God! Now, I began taking a relatively new oral drug at the time, Tamoxifen. I continued taking Tamoxifen for two years when suddenly another problem occurred. Here come the flying monkeys again!
In 1994, I had a total hysterectomy. I was diagnosed with cancer in my uterus (most likely a recurrence of spreading breast cancer) or it could have, possibly, been a side effect of Tamoxifen. THIS WAS CANCER DIAGNOSIS NUMBER 2. No certainty on this diagnosis and no medical follow up was necessary, other than continuing with the Tamoxifen to ward off further breast cancers. Once again, I appeared to be in remission and I felt great! Cancer was gone again!
I kept my faith. I continued with a positive attitude and believed that life was full and no regrets. I periodically kept in touch with Dr. Skinner and continued having regular mammograms. Oh, yes, I had difficulties in my life. I spent 24-years working for the Dept of Energy in Miamisburg. I remember in 1979, when I got the job at Mound, my Dad turned to me one day and said, “Jamie, you shouldn’t have anymore worries for the rest of your life.” The Mound was a nuclear weapons site and was responsible for producing nuclear weapon detonators, as well as the nuclear heat source devices for NASA’s space shuttles. Along with our nation’s nuclear arms rest, and the Cold War over, there was little need for nuclear weaponry. Therefore, the threat of plant closure loomed over my head for about 10 years.
Then in 1999, Daddy died. I’m really in the dark forest now. Daddy dying was a terrible time in my life, but with the Lord at my side, I once again, prevailed.
In 2002, I just knew those flying monkeys were watching. They were about to show their “mugs” once again, when Dr. Skinner had asked me to get a mammogram before coming in for a routine check up. I went for the mammogram and while there, I asked the technician how one would know if they had a lump on the side of their body that a breast had previously been removed? There is no breast tissue to scan, so how would one know? Her advice was to consult my doctor, which I did. I’ll never forget that day. I showed Dr. Skinner a lump on the same side that my breast had been removed. She moved so fast my head spun. She had her staff make me an appointment with my surgeon who, in turn, removed another tumor which had developed in the scar tissue. THIS IS THE THIRD CANCER. I hate those flying monkeys! Radiation resulted. 38 radiation treatments followed. Now, hopefully, I’m cancer free, again.
In 2003, it finally came. I lost my job, but never my faith. I took a year or so off from working and then in 2005, I decided lazing around was not for me. Although I was able to retire with a small pension back in 2003, I decided I wanted to go back to work. I was able to secure an administrative assistant’s position at a small plastics factory in Middletown. This was the right job for me. I loved my work. I felt the Lord helped me find this position and life would be wonderful once again.
In 2007, I began to noticeably slow down. I was tired a lot. I hoped it was a fact of aging or possibly being so over-weight. I was short of breath and I probably needed to check in with my fairy god sister, Dr. Skinner. A barrage of tests occurred from that doctor’s visit. Once again, I almost had forgotten, but how can you forget those dastardly flying monkeys looming around every scan or medical test? I even ended up in a pulmonary doctor’s office, where the next planned step would be a bronchoscopy. With the results in hand, Dr. Skinner, once again diagnosed me with cancer in my lungs. THIS IS CANCER NUMBER 4.
CANCER DIAGNOSES NUMBER 5, 6 AND 7 soon followed. Late last year it was determined that breast cancer had now spread to my bones (NUMBER 5). Some in my shoulder and some in my hips. Just this year, the monkeys continue to fly and in January, once again, I was diagnosed with cancer in my remaining breast. This diagnosis was followed with surgery to remove my last remaining breast with another modified radical mastectomy. This diagnosis is CANCER NUMBER 6. Those flying monkeys seem all around me, now. I must stay strong and continue having faith! I have most recently learned that I am also dealing with cancer in my liver (CANCER NUMBER 7).
As you must realize, I’m not through the forest yet, by far. So why do I remain positive? Just as I said previously….why not? I have complete trust in my doctor. I think I have the best doctor to advise me. I believe in Dr. Skinner. I believe she is the best doctor for me. I love her staff! They continue to encourage me and give me many reasons to never give up. Also, I can’t give up because I have many friends and family who encourage me everyday of my life. These are the people that have made me a fighter! I am not going to give up until it’s my last breath. I love my Lord and I have faith, which so far, has meant endurance. God has promised to take care of me.
And finally… God willing, I’ll have nothing more to add, but I’ll seeing you here next year.
Jamie's Biowritten by Jamie for a family genealogy collection, compiled by James A. Landrum
Here’s my life’s story in a nutshell.
On March 17, 1953, I was born to Cora Belle and Albert Augustus Landrum in Jackson, Ky. My brother, Barry Douglas, was 18 months at the time. When I was three years old, my family moved to Middletown, Oh., where Daddy worked at the Middletown Journal until his retirement in 1981. Our first home in Middletown was on Kabfleisch Road, but we only stayed there very briefly. It was too far out in the country for Mom. We moved shortly afterwards to Granada Avenue. Since moving to Granada, I've lived in four houses on the same street.
I have been fortunate to have always been employed since graduating from Lemon-Monroe High School in 1971. I've worked at the Mound Plant for the past 23 years. The Mound Plant is a former nuclear weapons site for the U.S. Dept. of Energy. But due to the global arms race, there is little need for such weaponry. We have been in a cleanup mode since 1992 and downsizing every year. Soon enough, it will get me, too! I'll worry about it then.
I’ve had a wonderful life! My parents were the best! They saw to it that Barry and I had everything a family could offer two children. Since I never married, I remained very close to my Mom and Dad. So close, that when I bought a house 11 years ago, I bought right across the street from them. I live in a little 2-bedroom house that I simply adore. It's really not much, but it is plenty enough for my little family. My family includes three dogs (Katie, been through it all with me; Abbie, stays with Mammaw across the street; and Sanabelle, the baby); and a cat (Whitney, came with the purchase of my house).
It was in July 1992 that my life took a drastic change. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a right modified radical mastectomy. Thank God there was no lymph node involvement. Six months and eight treatments of chemotherapy followed. Two years later, I was back in the hospital having a hysterectomy, partially due to the likelihood of breast cancer spreading as well as complications with a breast cancer preventative medicine. Upon removal, I was, once again, diagnosed with uterine cancer. However, no follow up was needed. It appeared that once again, I had this cancer thing “whipped.”
I have a strong faith in God. Without trusting in Him, I could never have endured my troubles. My family has been my rock. I love my family very deeply. My love of family is extended to ALL my family including aunts, uncles, and cousins. I mean it when I say “I have the best family in the world.” My Dad was strong, but he was a kind man, too. Everyone loved my Dad. My Mom has been and is my best friend. Without her, I would be lost. I couldn’t go on. My brother, Barry, and I haven’t always gotten along, but I would want him to know, I’ve always loved him. I’ve never felt anything less. His family has been my life. Barry's wife, Pam, has been like a sister to me through the years. I appreciate her very much. Since I never had children, I’ve felt that their kids are my kids. I loved Stacy from the first day I saw her. She’s so special to me. And then there is Adam. Adam is exactly what I would have wanted in my own son. He’s always been kind and gentle, just like my dear Daddy. I pray he never strays from that path.
In recent years, things have taken a downward turn for me. The downsizing of my worksite, the sudden death of my Daddy in January 1999, and a re-diagnosis of another cancer in January 2002 have added to my difficulties.
The threat of job loss has loomed over me for ten years. I never know when I could be cut. It has been a constant dark cloud for a very long time that I’ve wondered about, prayed about, and endured.
When Daddy died, it’s almost as if my world stopped and continues to stand still. I cannot get over losing him. Daddy was EVERYTHING to me. He was my father, my counselor, my doctor, my mentor, my neighbor, my repairman, my gopher and my friend. I loved him and I wish he were here. I miss him every day of my life!
After Daddy died, I didn’t think life could get much worse. Boy, was I wrong!
I think we all thought I was pretty much “finished” with cancer. It had been 9.5 years since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, when it reared its ugly head again this past January. Once again, a diagnosis was made of right breast cancer. Yes, it was in the same breast that had been removed earlier. Except that it had come back into the scar tissue. Thirty-eight treatments of radiation therapy followed, and I have been declared cancer-free (remission) again. We’ll see how long this lasts.
Thank you for taking time to read about me. My desire is that after reading this, you think upon me as a modest and Godly woman who adores her family and friends, and is strong enough to endure whatever is handed to her.
Obituary for Jamie Anne Landrum
Landrum, Jamie, age 56, of Middletown, passed away Friday, February 12, 2010, at Clinton Memorial Hospital. She was born March 17, 1953, in Jackson, KY, to Albert Augustus and Cora Belle (Gabbard) Landrum. She worked for Mound/Monsanto for 20 years and Granger Plastics for 3 years. Jamie was a member of Grace Baptist Church. She is preceded in death by her father, Albert Landrum and nephew, Adam Landrum. Jamie survived by her mother, Cora Landrum of Middletown; brother, Barry (Pam) Landrum of Franklin; niece, Stacy Chadwell; great-niece, Marlee Chadwell both of Franklin; niece-in-law, Mandi Landrum of Franklin; best friend, Linda McIntosh of Middletown; aunts, Gladys Turner of Jackson, KY, and Bonnie Barker of Nab, AL. Visitation will be held Monday, February 15, 2010, from 10:00-12:00 PM at Grace Baptist Church. A Celebration of Life Service will follow at 12:00 PM at the church with Rev. Roger D. Green officiating. Interment will be at Butler County Memorial Park. Memorial contributions may be made to National Breast Cancer Society, 2600 Network Blvd., Suite 300, Frisco, TX 75034 or Grace Baptist Church, 3023 Union Rd., Franklin, Ohio 45005. Condolences may be made to the family at www.bakerstevensparramore.com