I woke up this morning feeling really good, strong, happy. A brand new day ahead of me, thinking about the many things I need to do for my grandson’s visit.
I realized it has been a year this week since I was first diagnosed with lung cancer. At that time I thought that a diagnosis of cancer meant a sentence of death, and a horrible, painful death at that. I did not think that July 2009 would find me alive and feeling well.
I wish someone had told me, “you can live with cancer, and live a full and satisfying life as well.”
I try to keep connected to life, and do at least one thing a day that I would have done before the cancer – get out of the house, to the store, visit a friend, go somewhere interesting. I can still cook and shop. I can go to informal concerts and discussion groups (salons) with my friends. Sorry to say, the energy only lasts until after lunch, when I retreat to the couch and a nice long nap.
My lagging strength and energy has forced me to give up the active parts of my life – swimming, biking. And while that was important at one time, I can set it all aside and still be satisfied with my life.
I have my friends and my family, and they are the most important part of my life. And cancer has given me the time to let them know that, and put all my things in order.
A recap of this last year, living with cancer:
I was diagnosed at the end of July, 2008.
August was taken up with scans and tests, a PT scan of chest, CT scan of abdomen, and an MRI. A bone scan. A biopsy of the tumor, guided by CT scan. Media stenoscopy. Implantation of port for chemotherapy.
Started my first round of chemo on Sept. 8. This consisted of 5 doses (etopodide and cisplaten), rest for 3 weeks, then 5 more doses. Meanwhile radiation of the tumor began, 1 session per weekday for 36 days.
During both the chemo and the radiation I did not feel any pain nor nausea. At all. It was an easy cancer.
The radition left me very tired, and I scaled my activities back to half a day. I could go shopping, have lunch with my friends. When my hair fell out, my friends threw me a babushka party. I bought several wigs but found I seldom wore them.
A scan in Feb. implied that the cancer had been destroyed and I was declared in remission. But my oncologist was worried about my cough and sent me to a lung doctor. After several tests, he declared I had a serious case of emphysema.
From cured to invalid in the space of one week! I was outfitted with a breathing regime (albuterol) and several puffers. My days became tied to the breathing schedule. I was depressed.
And so it has gone through the spring - cancer on hold, emphysema to the forefront.