Here's an article that I can identify with in many (not all, but many) ways. I'm currently taking a low-dose cancer drug that comes in pill form and, although it causes side effects, those effects are minimal compared to all-out, IV chemo treatments. So in that regard I am very fortunate, especially since the drug seems to be working. I've been on it for eight months now, and slowly but surely my tumor marker numbers have decreased...from over 1,000 to somewhere around 150 now. Normal is under 10. I am still not out of the woods, and the thing is, even if and when I get all the way back down to under 10, I won't be out of the woods. I'll never be out of the woods, unless they come up with some radical new miracle cancer treatment in the next few years.
I won't be out of the woods because most metasticized cancers (not all...there are always exceptions...but most) come back. They mutate and become resistant to whatever drug was working so well for you. And at that point, if you can stand it, if you have the emotional and physical strength to keep trying, you have to go to Plan B or C or D or F...or...maybe not, because maybe you have run out of backup plans. Maybe you just used the only backup plan you had left in your and your many doctors' bags of tricks.
I'm getting closer to that point now. The current drug is working, and I am happy about that. I celebrate it, I am grateful for it every day. But I also live, every day, with the knowledge that it could stop working at any time. Yesterday I went to the acupuncturist, who is treating another woman with breast cancer; she now has mets to her liver. She was taking the same drug that I am now on. But when I asked my acupuncturist how she was doing (I don't know her personally, don't know her name), he said she just switched to another drug because the one she was on had stopped working...after only one year.
I always feel that I must put up a Big Positive Front to everyone I know. I must always emphasize the positive, emphasize what I am grateful for. That's what everyone wants me to do. If I don't, someone will inevitably say something to try and make me re-focus on the positive. I understand that, but I also feel chided, in a way, for not being upbeat enough, for not seeing the glass half full, for being pessimistic rather than optimistic. It annoys me, frankly. I have enough to deal with without friends chiding me (covertly) for not being Ms. Perfectly Positive all the time.
I walk a fine line. I do feel and want to be optimistic. But I don't want to be delusional, I don't want to imagine that I am "above" the realities of life and death. I'm trying to face every day realistically.
So anyway, I identify with parts of the article below. I admire the author for having the strength and guts to write it.
I had just settled into a chair for my regular Tuesday night cancer support group when I got the call. An unfamiliar number. A split second of wondering whether or not to answer. And then my doctor, calling from his own phone to say, “I have your results.”