CT Scan

We spent about 4 hours at the doctor’s office today for first blood work, then a CT scan, then a meeting with my oncologist. The scan looks good. There was no change in the size of the  primary tumor in my left lung, but he thought it might be scar tissue given that the secondary tumors, the largest of which is in the liver, did shrink. And, my left upper lobe has re-inflated; it had shown as collapsed on the previous scans.

So what does this mean? It means I begin maintenance therapy tomorrow with Pemetrexed. This had been part of my first chemo series along with Cisplatin, but my side effects were so severe that they switched me to Carboplatin and Paclitaxel. I have had a total of 4 rounds of chemo. My oncologist seems quite optimistic that the Pemetrexed will keep the tumors in check and may even reduce them further. And he thinks that the  severe side effects were from the Cisplatin and not from the Pemetrexed. The down side is that I will be back on higher doses of Dexamethasone, which makes me jittery and unable to sleep. But if I only have to take it for 3 days out of every 21, I’m not going to complain!

I will have another PET/CT scan in 6-9 weeks, depending on the CEA levels (tumor markers). If the CEA continues to go down or stays the same, we will wait 9 weeks; but if the CEA starts going up, we will do it sooner. Here’s hoping for 9 weeks!

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And so it begins…

First let me say I’m not writing this for sympathy or for attention; I’m writing this blog so that perhaps I can help someone else on the same journey, and so I can process my own emotions. And Second, this was not easy for me to write. I have been going back and forth about whether I should even publish this; there is no waffling about writing it, just about publishing it.

A few days ago, actually on Thursday, October 17th, at 4:10pm, I learned that I have lung cancer with metastasis to the liver.The following day, we had our first meeting with the oncologist. I learned that because the cancer has metastasized, it’s probably Stage 4, and there is no cure, but with chemo, we can hopefully shrink the tumors and extend my quality of life. I had blood work done and will still need to have a biopsy, a full body PET scan, and an MRI of the brain. Only then can we start chemo.

Looking back, I can see all the little signs I either missed or ignored. And I should never have started smoking and I should have quit sooner. But I can’t waste my energy on woulda-coulda-shoulda.

My doctor was wonderful – holding my hand as she gave me the news. The first thing into my head was how am I going to tell Steve? I knew on a gut level that I had cancer. What I didn’t expect was the metastasis. I made it home in one piece and then fell apart. It seems so unfair that I was looking forward to retirement and now the future is so uncertain.

Friday was a blur. I went to work like always and had to leave for a few hours for our meeting with the oncologist. He is a leading researcher in lung cancer and spent almost an hour with us after being an hour late because he spends as much time with each patient as that patient needs, and I like that. I went back to work but I’m not sure how much I got done because I felt so removed from everything.

There are so many questions, but they can’t be answered until all the tests are complete, and I’m impatient to start the fight. I think I’m still in a state of shock on one level while on another level I’m ready to fight. I know the odds aren’t in my favor – the survival rate for lung cancer is very low – but that is no reason to give in.

I have periods during the day when I’m fine but then the reality will hit again and I just want to scream and cry and hit something. I’m angry that my body has betrayed me; I’m angry at myself for not taking better care of myself; I’m angry that I may not have a chance to enjoy the retirement I dreamed of; I’m angry that my partner may have to go on without me. But I’m also trying to view this as a new learning experience.

I spent Saturday feeling sorry for myself, crying, or napping. I allowed myself one day for self-pity.

So I will continue blogging as long as I’m able, and I will continue my Gratitude Journal daily. That will force me to keep a positive attitude. 🙂

So peace, joy, and love to all. Hug those you love today.

Whining, and other nasty habits

We all know them; those people who are always whining about something. Or talking about how unlucky they are. Or extolling the virtues of having nothing good happen to them. I have a friend or two like that. They wear me down if I listen to them too long. And, I’ll admit it, there are times I want to slap the whine right out of them. I want to rant and jump up and down on their heads and tell them how good they have it compared to some other people I know. I don’t know what makes some people so negative while others are always positive no matter what happens.

I have to think about my own life and how negative I used to be. When I hear my friends whining about inconsequential things, I think back to when I was younger – was a a whiner like that? And the answer is, yes, I probably was. I felt so beaten down by my life that I couldn’t see anything positive. I did manage to change how I thought, and I try to help others to become more positive. But I forgot that in order for someone to change, s/he has to first realize there is a reason to change, and then has to want to change. There are people who are perfectly happy being miserable – my mother was one of those. So they are not going to change.

I have one friend, I’ll call her Karen, who is going through a difficult time right now. She has cancer, no job, and no health insurance. She could so easily fall into the pity pot and whine and cry; but she didn’t. She set out to find how she could get her life saving surgery and gathered up an impressive support network. I know she will be fine.

I have another friend, I’ll call her Kathy, who has a wonderful life. She has a good job, a strong family connection, and friends all over the world. But she is constantly whining about how she can’t find a good man; about how the only luck she ever has is bad luck; and how some of these bad things ‘could only happen’ to her. She doesn’t really believe she has any worth, and she will continue to attract negative events and people to her.

I truly believe we teach people who to treat us by how we treat ourselves. Karen has friends who would do anything for her; Kathy has friends who will continue to use and abuse her. The only difference between these two people is their attitude about life and their expectations about how life will treat them.