Monthly Archives: November 2014

Old Age Is Bad for You

Old age is bad for you, but it isn’t necessarily going to kill you. At least not right away.

This concept may seem obvious, but I think it bears mentioning. Life is fragile. We complain all the time, it seems, about ailments and fears. I mean this culturally, socially, as something that simply is part of the ongoing discussion. And the older we get, whether that means moving into our 30s or 40s or through middle age into the senior years, it seems to occur with greater frequency. In my 20s I had back problems and knee problems and I used to bitch about them, more so in my 30s, along with headaches and other nonsense. So I get migraines. So I pulled that muscle. It’s all a bitch getting older. 
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Rejecting Research Is Never a Good Option

As a person living with cancer, I get suggestions all the time to look at non-medical treatments. By this, I mean mainly nutritional or holistic approaches that are meant to directly replace the use of “Western” medicine. Each suggestion comes with an anecdotal reference to someone who was “cured” by these methods, which range from the clearly bizarre to sensible health choices. Digging deeper, of course, reveals that every verifiable success story includes the use of early surgery or extensive chemo and radiation therapies.

And none of them, so far, have applied directly to my particular brand of cancer.

It doesn’t bother me so much to

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Wartime Bad, Peace Good

We all have our daily battles. For me, these often have included little things, like holding my shit together while my daughter danced in front of the mirror instead of getting dressed for school or brushing her teeth. Lately, my battles have expanded to getting a deep breath after climbing the stairs, or getting up from a chair. Or just standing in a corner, leaning against a wall. Thankfully, that sort of battle is still relatively rare for me and only lasts a short time, but they remind me of how unimportant (or maybe very important) other battles have been–not in the fighting, of course, but in the experiences around them.
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Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Title

So I have been ruminating on the title of my future memoir. The one I’ll be writing about this experience with cancer once it has run its course. Or rather, once its course has been run. I come solidly from the camp that appreciates having the title up front. Not that I’m opposed to changing it once the work has been completed, mind you. But I like to start every work with a few solid words that guide its development. The title, to me, sets the tone and theme and gets the ball rolling. Until that ball hits a wall or gets stuck in a corner or something, and then the title can be chucked right out and replaced. But still…
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Pain Is Bad For You, But It Is Better Than Malaise

When I woke up this morning, one of the first things I noticed was that laughing was painful. It wasn’t much of a surprise, as I had an incision at the base of my neck just at the bone, where tubes had been stuffed under the skin yesterday. And I had also had a bronchioscopy, so my throat was expected to be sore. But the grogginess and woozy feeling of the previous evening was thankfully gone.

Day after lymph node biopsy:
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Denial Is a Dirty Word (and just bad for you)

People have been talking to me a lot lately (and not surprisingly) about the power of positive thinking. These tidbits of wisdom have come from medical professionals and laymen alike. And it is true, positive thinking is quite useful. On the other hand, it does not mean ignoring the facts or believing that everything will work out without taking appropriate action. Without a hefty dose of pragmatism in the mix, putting on a sunny face and ignoring the reality of a situation is just another form of denial, and denial leads down a dark and dangerous road.
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Going In: Better To Go Facing Forward

Today will be my second biopsy. This one, targeting soft tissue which can hopefully be used to extrude good DNA samples of the nefarious cells, will involve the removal of a lymph node from the side of my esophagus. It is a fairly routine, minor surgery, and I am excited to get it taken care of.

It also means that I get to pause with the tests for a while! And though I might miss getting that peek inside from each new scan, I am sure that I will have plenty of more opportunist in the near future. So I’ve got that going for me.
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Getting from Point A to Point B, More Fun than Being Stuck at A

There is a lot to be said for knowing where you are going. And even if you can’t know the destination, at least knowing the path you are on.

When I first began wondering what was going on with my health, I suspected that I was merely dealing with fallout from a steroid treatment that I had taken for a shoulder injury. The steroids had left me wiped out and susceptible to whatever viruses my daughter was bringing home from school…and I spent several weeks fighting off whatever respiratory illness had dripped in my lap. Once the “colds” began clearing up, I had a few small infections that seemed to persist in my nose and finger. At that point, no one suspected that the nose infection was actually a weird little ingrown hair, but I was getting more concerned that the shortness of breath I had begun to experience was a result of walking pneumonia. The initial diagnosis was a probable systemic staph infection, but I was sent for a chest X-ray just to be on the safe side.

And that was when I suddenly no longer had an obvious path.

The X-ray identified a 3cm mass

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Negativity is Positively Not in Your Best Interest

I had a few other titles for this post sliding around in my brain. After getting up and down to move the cat out of my daughter’s bedroom a few times, this is the only one that had stuck, so I’m going to go with it in spite of the cheesy wordplay. Partly, that is because it is also an accurate summation of my perspective.

Today is November 7th, 2014. It’s a Friday. And it is a good day.

Yesterday, after three-odd months of waiting and questions and test after test, I finally received a diagnosis from  my doctor regarding why I haven’t been feeling precisely top-drawer recently. It turns out that, in general terms, I have Stage 4 Lung Cancer. More specifically, I have Adenocarcinoma, which is a non-small cell form of lung cancer, and it has spread from the 3 odd centimeter mass in my left lung to a few lymph nodes and eventually down to my hip bone. And I am so thankful to have this diagnosis. Not because I am pleased to “have cancer,” which would be kind of perverse, but because now I know what I am dealing with and I can get on with it.
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