What do I do now? What can I do to keep others from having to go through what my family just endured? Those were some of the words I said to myself after my mom passed away almost 11 years ago. Back then her treatment options were few and she only survived for 7 months after her initial diagnosis. It was a hazy 7 months, ones littered with hospital stay after hospital stay. When I finally came out of the haze, I realized I wanted to raise money for lung cancer research and support programs. There had to be more ways we could fight this awful disease than just chemo and radiation.
And speaking, a few weeks late, of my "whirled," at least as it relates to my next week or so: 24-hour urine collection on Tuesday, pre-chemotherapy lab work on Wednesday, in the Connection office on Thursday, chemotherapy infusion on Friday, continuing anxiety concerning the previous Wednesday's CT Scan/awaiting results from my oncologist followed by our usual post-scan appointment with him Friday a week later to discuss my future: status quo or the great unknown; coinciding with the typical eating challenges/post-chemo side effect which lasts a week to 10 days after treatment.
For the first time in almost exactly 25 years: bathroom demolition, times two. With financial assistance from my father-in-law, along with use of our home equity line, we have committed to and contracted for, a complete renovation of our two full bathrooms ('full' meaning: tub/shower, commode, sink, vanity, mirror, shelves, lights/fixtures, counter top, floor and shower tile, and paint). Ergo, over the next eight to 12 weeks, our house will officially become a construction site.
As I bring our two cat carriers up from the basement in order for "The Buff Boys" to acclimate in anticipation of their impending visit to the Veterinarian, I can't help but think back to the spring of 1976. That's when an appointment to mend my male cat, Tillie, nearly went very wrong. To this day, the circumstances still haunt me.
Four weeks out of every five, it appears as if I don't have cancer. Fortunately, I don't look the part. Nor do I act the part - in my opinion. However, there is one week out of every five when I most definitely feel the part: the week after my chemotherapy infusion, when eating is a particular challenge. The look, feel, taste and thought of food and/or drink is nearly impossible to swallow - literally and figuratively. And though I'm not in any pain during this post-chemotherapy weak, I am compromised nonetheless.
If you live long enough, it's quite likely that many of the family members/generations born before you will have predeceased you. Moreover, the family members born before them, two generations-plus behind, are most surely to be geshtorbin (Yiddish for dead) as well. The effect: memory loss. Specifically, the memories lost of a generation of great grandparents - and beyond, you probably never knew or for whom you have extremely limited knowledge; after all, you were an infant when your maternal grandmother died.
Since I have some alone-time; just me and the cats, I thought I'd try to write my next column a few weeks ahead and take a bit of the time-sensitive deadline pressure off. Not that meeting my weekly commitment has been too much of a problem over the years (nearly 20 in fact), still, I thought I'd put pen to paper, literally, and see what comes out.
Having been a cancer "diagnosee" now for eight years and exactly three months - as I sit and type on May 27, 2017, a lifetime considering the original "13 month to two-year" prognosis I was given on February 27, 2009, I have learned much about cancer that I didn't know. In fact, I've learned everything about cancer I know now because previously I knew nothing. Growing up I heard/experienced very little about cancer. My parents were healthy as was my immediate family (aunts, uncles, cousins).
After being diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (ALK positive), my perspective on life has completely changed. As a young mom with no smoking history, this diagnosis was a complete shock for me and my family. Today we try to enjoy every day we have together and are thankful for our blessings. We are trying to be as normal as we can with our family, stay positive, and continue to put our faith in God to help us through this hurdle.