I haven’t written a blog since the summer. I am not sure why – I think it is because I wasn’t sure what else I could say that would be helpful or interesting.
The summer was difficult. I had several complications from the cancer – phlebitis, pneumonia, pneumonitis – and they all took a long time to resolve. But the most difficult event was learning at the end of July that the cancer was continuing to spread despite the drug I was on. Since then I have started a newer drug, called ceritinib, which I hope will slow the spread of the disease. It is supposed to be very effective, but it has several gastro-intestinal side effects.
It is a challenge for me to understand how to live my life when I have such a serious disease. Most days, I feel pretty well, and I am tempted to live as “normal” a life as possible, meaning as close to my previous life as possible. Inevitably, I push myself too much, and then I get sick again. I think I am finally learning that there is a new normal, which means I have to set limits on what I do each day. It has taken a long time to learn how to listen to what my body is telling me – whether it is time to rest, to look for comfort from friends and family, or to push myself a little. As I am writing this, I realize that these are the kinds of lessons I should have taught myself years ago.
Then, of course, I can’t help having moments when I try to understand why all this is happening. I have met several people who have looked towards spirituality to help them understand what is occurring in their lives. I am not sure that I understand what spirituality really means, and for someone who has never been at all religious, it is hard to suddenly bring that into my life. I am somewhat envious of those whose spiritual soul have been a source of strength, and realize how I allowed myself to ignore most aspects of my life outside work. Another lesson I should have learned earlier in my life….
November is Lung Cancer Awareness month – but there doesn’t seem to be very much awareness occurring. Lung Cancer Canada released a statement and a colleague and I have contacted our local media to try to get some coverage. Despite all our efforts however, the association with smoking seems to have created a stigma that won’t go away. And because the outcome of patients with lung cancer is so dismal, there are few long-term survivors to lead a charge towards compassion, new treatments and better research funding.
My colleague is very anxious to further awareness and funding for lung cancer and that has given both of us a sense that perhaps we can contribute a little to reducing the burden of this illness. We will see where that will lead.
[Continued in Part 6]