I am up and dressed and it isn't even 9 am yet - hurrah! Still feeling a tad the worse for wear, but in comparison to earlier this week, I am in the peak of physical fitness and comfort! I can even swallow a cup of normal tea without retching, and that has got to be worth something!
Anyway... I saw the oncologist yesterday. I gave him a hug as advised in one of my healing books. It felt good. I felt better towards him - more of a person trying to help another person rather than some doc in an office looking at some patient's file.
The meeting was a long one. Here is what we know (if you're interested in the medical nitty gritty...)
The tumour is called a pancoast tumour in the apex of my left lung, and is Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC for short), staged at IIIA, which means it has spread to the lymph nodes in the chest on the left side.
It has not shrunk in response to 2 cycles of chemotherapy using Cisplatin and Vinorelbine, and is unlikely to respond to a further 2 cycles. But I've already had the 3rd, and I've decided to have the final cycle after Easter.
My oncologist wanted to sack the chemo for radio immediately, but I am going to Centre Parcs with my family (the Willow Foundation have arranged everything, more on them in a minute) and I feel that I, no WE, need this break, together, as a family, and at a time when I am well enough to do things with them. Doc says he's happy to go with this plan, and this way, we get to see if the final 2 cycles will have any effect - they might, mightn't they?!
So what we have at present is what we call 'stable disease'. It isn't growing or spreading, and it isn't shrinking either. After chemo, and a week's break, we start radiotherapy - 20 hits, one a day, at a hospital an hour or so away. And that can only happen once.
After radio, if the tumour is still there, we watch and wait. The overall survival rate after 5 years for patients who have chemo + radio + surgery, is "not significantly better" than for those who have chemo + radio. Doc says if I make it to 5 years then the chance are I will live out my life. 25 % of patients make it to 5 years, so I've got a 1 in 4 chance. Given that cancer is a 1 and 3, and I won on those odds, maybe I'll be lucky again, hey!
It's a lot to take in. Cancer is a strange beast. There are so many factors at play, and the main one seems to be mental attitude. I threw the I Ching yesterday, and it said I had to be calmly resolute, that fighting the disease with violence was useless - I had to resist it with passive determination, with love. So I'm going to try to learn to do just that.
A quick note on The Willow Foundation
This organisation arranged special days for young people (between 18-40) with a life threatening illness. I was given their website address from another patient with lung cancer, and after filling in a form they rang me and arranged everything for me and my family to go to Centre Parcs - something we never could have afforded, especially not now. If you know of anyone in my position (God I hope you don't!) but if you do, please pass on the website to them. They are a wonderful organisation doing wonderful work, something I'd like to do
So this blog will be interesting over the next few years, eh. Soon the treatment will be over and life will continue, and I'll have to work out what I'm going to do, and how I'm going to cope. There's so much work to be done on myself... getting fit again, staying healthy, meditating, yoga, etc., etc., and writing. Lots of writing and getting published.
And lots of hope. Yes. Lots and lots of lovely, luscious hopefulness.