Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Assiversary the Fifth

Five years ago today I went alone to an appointment that would change the rest of my life. I was going in to get the results from my recent colonoscopy and had no real worries on my mind. Not long into the appointment my mind was racing and I hardly remember the details of it. Just the devastating part: you have a large cancerous tumor and we need to run more tests to see if it has spread.

I had never really been in the world of cancer before. My aunt had breast cancer which was easily cured with surgery and no chemotherapy. My grandfather had died a couple years before from multiple myeloma, but at an advanced age. I had one distant friend who had just gone through breast cancer and chemo and the like. But I had not been involved with their care; had not been close enough to experience the cancer journey with them. But there I was, thrown into that world and scared out of my mind. The next month was a complete rollercoaster of emotions, scans and tests, all while I continued to work full time and juggle the people in my world. By the second week of February we had a complete diagnosis and a plan of action.

It has been some crazy, whirlwind and busy years since that time. And for all the chaos and difficulty of 2016, it still rates as one of the best years of my life. I can top this great year off with the knowledge that as of today I have beat the five-year survival odds. And I am still doing my very best to fully live and be grateful for each and every day that I continue to have.

I have been a bit quiet here on the blog. As usual, it's been some busy times in my life and I am greatly looking forward to some settling down to come in the new year. I will be starting another round of chemo on January 4. And that will certainly curb some of my constant movement. Just last Friday I got the results from my most recent round of all the scans (CAT, PET, MRI). My doctor says it was a good news visit. No new activity in the brain, and continued stabilization of the remaining tumor. Low activity in the primary metastatic lung tumor. My bloodwork looked good. Though there is a new lesion in the upper left lung that has been causing pain and may end up getting radiation treatment.

As much as this was considered a good news visit, it was of course a little hard for me to settle with. I keep my hopes so high that I keep thinking someday I'll come to one of these scan results and the cancer will just magically have disappeared. And though I am inclined to keep my hopes that high, there is some pragmatic thinking in my mind that wonders if I should tone that hope down a little so that I find myself less disappointed at times like this. The chemo is clearly still working for now, and I'll be having some genetic testing done on my tumor cells to see if there are any clinical trials or immunotherapy that might work for me. We are starting to work to find a plan B to follow up the current systematic chemo plan A.

My doctor called me an "exemplary patient" because of my knowledge of my cancer and all the treatments I've been through, as well as my continued positive attitude and willingness to live the hell out of life. But that is just me being me. Trying to live the best I can "with" cancer. Underneath it all I know that I will be dealing with this for the rest of my life. And the consolation I find is in positivity, mindfulness and complete engagement.

Big high fives and fist bumps to everyone for making another year marker. And for not letting this disease overwhelm me in the process.