Although Lisa Rome isn’t ready to quit her fight with a rare form of cancer, she sadly concedes to worrying this could be her last Christmas.
Diagnosed in June of 2014, Rome, 51, has primary peritoneal cancer, which affects the covering of her abdomen and organs. The disease is terminal and has no cure.
“I think it’s just that I’ve made it again,” she said. “You always think you’re not going to make it to the next Christmas or birthday. I’m at the point, it’s probably my last Christmas and I have to treat it that way. I have to make sure I can spend every moment with my kids – that’s what I want to do.”
No more worrying about the small stuff like the dishes or keeping everything put away, Rome said. Life is about taking that long walk with someone, and every holiday is special.
This year’s Christmas is bringing everybody together.
Rome’s son in the U.S. Army can’t attend, but his wife will be at the family Christmas luncheon. Her daughter is coming from Houston along with her two sisters and their husbands, bringing the group to about 15 people with special expectations.
“You put 15 Cajuns in a room, you’re not going to get quiet,” she mused about her anticipated excitement.
On Tuesday, she gathered with about six family members and friends to bake goodies at her home in Mimosa Park. Just about everyone, including the mailman, will partake of the joyous sweets like truffles, cake bonbons and cookies they made to share some holiday cheer.
“It increases your faith,” Rome said of what she’s learned about her experience with cancer. “You realize that life is not forever. Tomorrow is not promised.”
But Rome, who has gained a longer view of life and what makes it important, knows she’s got Christmas and has been rounding up her family and friends to make a special holiday.
“We realize that gifts are not what’s important,” she said. “Being together is important – everything.”
She also praised the help she’s gotten from a group called Perry’s Posse’, which Rome called fabulous.
“It seems they will send me a note – it just always seems to come at exactly the time I need it,” she said. “It always is in my mailbox when I’m feeling down.”
The group has sent her money to help with the high cost of medical care, which Rome said has certainly been important.
“The bills are constant,” she said. “It’s not cheap to be sick in America.”
Rome said Perry’s Posse’ offerings started coming soon after she was diagnosed, and, with the way cancer drastically changed her life, every bit of support and hope has come to mean everything to her. They sent her a book with inspirational quotes, and a little frog that relays God’s love.
“It helps knowing there are other people there supporting you,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
Life has been difficult for her, particularly the changes required to deal with the disease. Rome had to quit a job she loved at Capital One bank to deal with a deluge of doctor visits that continue today.
“I was one of those people who was always everywhere,” she said. “I still wake up some mornings like this is all a dream because this can’t be happening to me. You never think it’s going to happen to you.”
But, for Christmas, Rome knows what she wants and it fits much better in her life than in a box.