Sadness and Anger

I felt more energetic today and was able to accomplish quite a bit. I even went grocery shopping with Steve. Tomorrow, I will meet with team members to see how Friday’s blood work looked, and to see what our next steps are. I am scheduled for a 2nd chemo treatment a week from tomorrow, but at least this time, I’ll know to expect to be sidelined for most of the week.

I am reading more information about lung cancer, and I’m angry that there is so little attention paid to it compared with other cancers that affect women (men, too, but I’m a woman.) The research dollar amounts spent on Lung Cancer are abysmally inadequate given that lung cancer is not generally diagnosed until it has already metastasized, and the survival rate hasn’t changed much in 40 years. Where are the “Race for the Cure” and the walks, and all the other fundraising efforts for lung cancer. Did you know that the ribbon color for lung cancer is white, or pearl; because it’s the ‘invisible’ cancer?

I am also angry that people assume that if you have lung cancer, you must be a smoker, and therefore it’s your own fault you got this terrible disease. This needs to change. Until we remove the stigma, people won’t want to give money for research. Nobody deserves cancer of any kind.

It also makes me sad that I have this terrible disease. There are days when it doesn’t seem possible; the doctors made a mistake; the X-ray is wrong; the C-T scan and the PET scan and the biopsy are all wrong; even though I know in my heart they aren’t wrong. I wrestle daily with this diagnosis, and I look for hopeful signs that the disease is waning. But there are no signs to see; it’s too early. And I dissolve into tears once again.

Our dogs know there is something wrong. Peanut, who normally isn’t affectionate, has been much more needy than usual. Spud has been glued to my side the whole time I am home; this isn’t that unusual, but he, too, is much more needy. Steve has taken over their feeding. Probably an overabundance of caution on our part as my immune system is still quite strong. But on the other hand, they need to be used to a different routine if I shouldn’t survive as long as I would like. Steve took Spud to the groomer yesterday so he and the groomers know each other.

I am doing what I can to make sure Steve and the dogs can manage without me even as I continue to fight. It is a strange dichotomy to prepare for one’s death but hoping it won’t be for a long while yet. I have told my sons what the odds are, but I’m not sure even I believe the poor survival rate.

I would like to sleep through this whole ordeal, but I know I can’t and it wouldn’t solve anything. So I will continue to fight through the tears…

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8 thoughts on “Sadness and Anger

  1. What can I say? I’m angry and sad that cherished loved ones have to go through what seems like such barbaric treatments for a disease that ought to have a cure by now. 40 years??? That’s insane. And so much politics and discrimination and apathy keep those numbers from improving. It infuriates me that there is still cancer, it enrages me that chemo is still the best (only?) option, and it saddens me to the core that you are going through this.

    There is an obligation, and maybe rightly so, to maintain hope, always to maintain hope, because it IS true that we never know what’s around the next bend in the road…a cure could be hatching in somebody’s petrie dish as we write this. Still, words seem too empty. Yet, what’s the alternative. Silence is excruciatingly lonely and easily misinterpreted. Despair is not constructive.

    One day at a time, flinging hope in the face of staggering odds, praying for those cures to be hatched NOW. I just don’t know what else to do. All I know is I want to be here with you in this muck and mire. Sending as much light and love as humanly possible from this cyberdistance. And hoping that hope wins out. It’s supposed to. The stats clearly point in a dismally polar direction. But I for one will continue to pray and hope. And love. Always love. xoxoxo

  2. Been reading your blog for the past hour. JUST BELIEVE YOU’LL BE CURED. I am a cancer survivor for a little over four years now, had six sessions of chemo and oral tablets. It’s one of the reasons why I put up my own blog here, Dreams and Escapes because I needed to share what I went through. If I could inspire someone who is undergoing the same journey then that is enough for me. I’m praying that you’ll get well soon!

  3. costellocnm says:

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    Search for people, places and things..

    Hi Ruth, Some of your comments reminded me of an Op-Ed piece I recently wrote , which I will share with you . Hang in there ~

    The Missing White Ribbons…..The Silent Battle

    .Written by Maureen Costello-Estberg RN CNM
    Nov.24,2013

    When an army is ”snuffed out” before they ever get a chance to start to fight ~ no one may ever know there is a war going on.
    I am part of that silent battle. I have stage 4 lung cancer. Despite never smoking and being a vegetarian since 1977, I, the down to earth, healthy, nature loving, nurse, midwife- who has witnessed over a career of 34 years the first breath of over 10,000 newborn babies – has lung cancer.

    I am part of the statistic that 1 in 14 people will develop lung cancer during their lifetime. I never imagined that I would be part of those statistics.
    Many people do not realize that the only consistent risk factor in getting lung cancer is that “you have lungs”. Too many people assume that it’s from smoking and that only adds
    to the stigma against lung cancer. Many of its early signs and symptoms go unnoticed or misdiagnosed until it is too late.

    In the fall of 2012, after experiencing some shoulder/scapula pain that led to a CAT scan I found myself at Memorial Sloan Cancer Center in New York City. On the morning of the approaching hurricane Sandy I was being told I had advanced stage lung cancer. Then the storm literally hit later that day.

    My life has never been the same since. I have learned to live in the new normal – if you can call life with lung cancer normal. Yes, I was now one of the 15% of newly diagnosed people with lung cancer who never smoked . So many people assume you must have smoked or have done something to get lung cancer. The only thing I did is have lungs. Pollution, radon, radiation, genetics among other things are also all potential risk factors.
    And the fact is- smoking and lifestyle choices contribute to All cancers- breast, lung, bladder, colon as well as many other health conditions that are routinely researched and treated without stigma.

    One of the sad parts for me is that November is “Lung Cancer Awareness Month” symbolized by white ribbons. Maybe being fairly new to this cancer I am just more sensitive – but if you look around you don’t see too many displayed white ribbons or hear the media much talk about lung cancer awareness month. Yet everyone knows when breast cancer awareness month is and you’re seeing pink ribbons everywhere…even on football players. Unfortunately the white ribbons were barely seen or worn. Where are the white ribbons?

    Many of the voices of lung cancer patients were silenced before they could ever be raised to bring attention to this deadly disease. These voices are silenced mainly because approximately 50% of people diagnosed with lung cancer die within one year of it being discovered. Sadly less than 16% will survive to the 5 year mark. So before they can speak up and raise awareness they are silenced by an early, cruel and untimely death.

    Speaking of cruel, what I am about to say has happened so many times to me and many other lung cancer patients I have met in my treatment journey. When a lung cancer patient tells someone the news that they have been recently diagnosed often the first thing people say or ask is “Did you smoke”? , followed by a blank stare. Whereas when a breast cancer patient tells someone their diagnosis people usually say “I am so sorry”, which is followed by a heartfelt hug.
    Imagine how that makes me and others with lung cancer feel. So judged. So unsupported. So stigmatized. So sad.

    I realize that perhaps that sometimes that people ask that question because they cannot believe that someone who is healthy and never smoked can get lung cancer. That question can help create a sense of space/ distance from the possibility that it too
    could happen to them. Especially when it happens to somebody who has no other risk factors other than having lungs.

    Most people do not realize more people die each year from lung cancer ~ 160,000 -than all of the other four major types of cancer COMBINED (breast, colon, prostate and pancreatic).

    Yet lung cancer is the least funded, least researched type of cancer/ but it is the most deadly. Each year approximately $25,000 per breast cancer patient is directed to research and that is a very good thing.
    However disproportionately only approximately $1, 600 per lung cancer patient goes to research. Why isn’t more research money going to fight this deadly disease?

    Many lung cancer patients want to fight, raise their voices, and work to increase lung cancer awareness. The problem is that their voices are silenced way too soon.~ before they can be around long enough to draw attention to this dreadful disease. Your may remember the late “Superman’s” wife actress Dana Reeves -gone within eight months of her lung cancer diagnosis at the early age of 44. Since she was such an outspoken advocate for many worthwhile causes I am sure if she had lived longer lung cancer’s white ribbon symbol would be just as recognizable as breast cancer’s pink ribbon. Maybe Valerie Harpers recent disclosure that she has lung cancer, as well as other patient /activists such as Bonnie J Addario of CA and my friend and hero Diane Legg of Mass. will help increase public awareness.

    Well, you have heard my voice before it is silenced. I just learned from my recent MRI that the cancer has now metastasized to my brain despite doing chemo, lobectomy, radiation and currently on a promising new targeted oral chemo ~ Tarceva. If not put into remission, I too will be made silent ~before I can really have have the chance to raise my voice to increase awareness. A voice to help bring about change to increase research funding. A voice to help put an end to the stigma. Please hear my voice and the voices of ALL cancer patients. Lets work together to help win this battle

  4. Great piece, Maureen. I have just learned all these facts and the statistics are abysmal. I’m doing what I can to let people know what’s going on. I have a wide support network – worldwide – and by blogging this journey, I’m hoping to get the word out. It may be only one person at a time, but much has been accomplished that way.

    Good luck to you in your fight – may you live to add your voice.

Ruth passed away from cancer. Please remove from list

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