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.