Sunday, 27 November 2011


By Thursday, I am beginning to lose my ability to stay in the present. Apprehension sets in. Routinely, Friday before Chemo, I have a chest X-ray. The following Monday, blood work at 7:00 a.m. and then an appointment with the medical oncologist. Trying not to think about it is like waving your arms to shoo off a flock of pigeons.  All you accomplish is sending your thoughts into panicky flight.

Did the tumor shrink? Did my immune system restore itself for enough for another round? And this time, the added stress of wondering what the next round will be like when they add daily radiation too.

Once bitten, twice shy. I am expecting to get sick this time…fatigue, despair, rage and the inability to sleep from the steroids…that nauseating feeling of toxicity from the chemo drugs. Am I going to lose the good days in-between when they add the radiation? The week when my energy comes back and I feel almost normal? And that would be the lesser evil – the greater being that the tumor is not responding, not getting smaller. 

Compulsively, I resort to medical sights on the internet, hoping for good news.  There is no good news to be found. Instead there are statistics: 10% of people with stage IV metastatic lung cancer make it to five years. Wendy says, “Okay – so picture a hundred people and the ten who survive and picture yourself in the 10%. She adds, “It isn’t a good idea to spend too much time researching it.” She’s right there.  Really, this is such a weird cancer that one medical site’s information conflicts with the next. 

So far, I haven’t seen a death sentence on my doctor’s face. First round, I remind myself, the tumor was shrinking. Ilga recalls that her impression was that adding radiation would be a sign that the doctors believe treatment is going well.  Me? I only remember the oncologist saying, “We’re going to start radiation.”

By Saturday, I begin to get very quiet. I continue working on the next beaded bottle I’m making. It’s absorbing and meditative…but underneath, there is a free-floating sense of anxiety. Part of me is detached, waiting, and anxious. 

Am I going through four or five months of this misery, only to have four or five months left after that? Or will I be in the lucky 10%? Right now, I cannot believe in my imminent death. But right now I have energy, the will to accomplish things, the impulse to create things. But the chemicals are coming and when that happens, I am someone else.  That “someone” cannot find anything to cheer about. That someone wonders if it’s futile to fight. I need my little stretch of time in-between treatments to return to myself and to regain optimism. Am I about to lose that when the radiation starts?

All questions. No answers.  But some deep part of myself is determined to survive. Knock me down and I get up. Knock me down again and I get up again. 

Remember that this is a long journey...times of doubt, times of feeling positive and strong. I don’t want pity from anyone but I do appreciate good thoughts and for those of you saying prayers, this would be a good time.

I’ll tell you the results of the tests next week.


NEDbeads said...

You have both from me...I'm thinking of you always, and sending you love, not pity.

I'm wondering if Wendy meant that it would be better not to research because every case is different in its own way, rather than because you would make yourself more anxious...because I doubt that ones journey could really resemble anyone else's.

You'll get back up again - that's in you just as much (more) than the chemicals...

Anonymous said...

I am saying prayers for you Linda


Roberta said...

Do you sprout? I am thinking wheat grass. It could help at least with the effects of chemo. It is very streng-ifying. Also, watching them grow gives a sense of hope for the future.

Howpublic said...

Ned, that's a good way to think of it. That I'm more than the chemicals.
Val..thank you. Roberta - someone suggested spirolina to me. Right now, I've been told not to use a juice machine or take any supplements that are anti-oxidents. The reason being that they grab onto the cancer cells and prevent the chemo from attaching. So I'm perplexed about what I'm allowed to eat. However, I may try sprouts...surely they can't hurt.

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

Sending love, prayers, and the first verse and chorus from Iggy LuLu. No music or second verse yet, but think Jason Mraz:

Cold and dark and Wal-Mart tired;
I need a cab, I need some quiet
Not looking for a chat;
I’m flat-out
Wasted from the trip;
You’re there and you’re damn good,
You smile and you laugh
And you say the shit you should;
And no one really knows,
but that’s the way it goes — it goes —

Iggy Lulu, man, I love you;
No one knows me like-like you do

Pat Barber said...

Every cancer experience is indeed unique - no two are alike. Same is true for individual reactions to chemo chemicals and radiation. And yes, you are so much more than the chemicals in you. Please always keep in focus your own counsel: this is a long journey...there will be times of doubt, times of feeling positive and strong, times of seemingly turning into someone other than you. All of it is temporary, none of it is permanent. You are permanent. As to supplements (and again, remember no 2 journeys are alike), I was told that while I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, I should forever stay away from supplements simply because supplements are 10x stronger than natural form. I'm no expert, but I'm thinking the same goes for things produced from a juicer - since those products are roughly 10x more complex and dense than simply eating one fruit or vegetable at a time. But don't listen to me, make sure you ask your doctor to explain the reasoning behind the bans. For instance, I know some breast cancer patients are banned from oranges and orange juice simply because theirs is an estrogen sensitive cancer and to the human body oranges and orange juice have a "chemical signature" very similar to estrogen and so the body will "see" it as estrogen.

Howpublic said...

Pat, I once had a really good Shiatsu (sp?)therapist tell me that supplements were a bad idea - and a great excuse for not eating properly, so you might be right. I won't ask my doctor though...because they get almost zero training in nutrition. SO! Better eating habits, at least when I can eat stuff other than bland white food.
Cynthia - I love the song! You are going to record it and post it when it's done? Hope so!

Jack said...

It's important to remember that the treatment is the journey, not the destination. It may seem that there's not much to look forward to when the next round of treatment is coming up, but it's the boring little suburban station on the journey to the pretty country destination. :)

All of the new friends you've made on this journey will get to meet you after you reach that destination. Focus on how much you're looking forward to that and perhaps that will help you through the harder times a little...

Howpublic said...

Jack - that is important. And it's only in the last week that I've stopped feeling that when I try to look after the treatment..there's anything but a huge fog bank. As it happens, I've had a good week. The first week I've had any impulse to do something creative and the best energy levels in some time. It reminded me that there are other states besides crazy, nauseated and tired. For now, it's a day at a time...and a longish haul. But there's no alternative and at least I can imagine a time when it will be over and I'll just have to contend with follow-up tests. And by the way, always good to hear from you.