I am now fighting cancer for the third time in my life. I did not make a big deal out of my first battle with cancer (testicular) back in 1989. I remember being worried about completing all the tasks of my job before surgery and I also wanted to make sure that I did not miss any work. I was young and believed, that somehow, this event would not change my life as I was destined to live a long life.
My second battle with cancer was in 2015 and I lost a kidney. I remember experiencing shock and wondering, “Why me?” But, after a few days of disbelief, questioning God, and of course slipping into a pity party mode quite frequently, I finally just faced the reality of losing a kidney and dealing with the necessary changes in my diet and lifestyle to now accommodate the new, after losing my kidney, the new diagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 3.
“Do you want to be happy? Let go of what’s gone, be grateful for what remains, and look forward to what is coming.”
Up to this point it never occurred to me I could die: How many times in your own life have you focused on the fact of how fortunate you were, or blessed, or lucky, rather than on how quickly death can come to you? Do any of use actually face death and dying until it is too late? We actually believe (of course we never say it) that somehow, we are special and by the grace of God for us and only us, we shall live forever.
I was diagnosed with extensive (stage 4) small cell carcinoma lung cancer in October of 2021; it had spread to my bones by the time of my diagnosis. I had had annual Low dose CT scans annually and I had had a chest and abdomen x-ray in April that supposedly showed nothing and I was told to follow up next year…..
Then to struggle with our healthcare system to get to the bottom of things and get things moving toward treatment for whatever diagnosis was eventually made; that took FOUR months! As terms were batted around, I eventually found that small cell carcinoma, is a very aggressive cancer with a 5-year survival rate of 6% overall (that includes limited stage and extensive stage combined). For extensive stage (stage 4) life expectancy without treatment is two to four months. With treatment, it is six to twelve months. With the treatment I am getting I might see a life expectancy of 20 to 24 months.
That is reality. I can hope and pray for more or I can celebrate the life I have had and to maximize the gift of what days I have left……..to be continued.….