This summer is the three year anniversary of my lung/brain cancer diagnosis.
THREE YEARS. THREE YEARS!
I’m no stranger to cancer. Lord, how I wish I was.
I’ll bet you do too.
Let’s see how many folks have Jack and I lost in our immediate family…..
- Jack’s grandmother
- Jack’s grandfather
- My Uncle
- My Aunt
- My sister
And let me say that MANY precious friends could be added to this list, and some are in the midst of the fight right now, God love’m.
Suffice to say I understand what it means when the doctor says “it’s stage 4”.…..
I’ve told my story ad nauseum so I won’t bore you with the details again. Today is what matters and today……well, today my cancer is gone. For several months my PET scans and MRI tests have shown no evidence of the cancer.
A miracle actually. In my estimation it’s a miracle of modern medicine and God given intelligence to those creating and inventing and discovering new treatments every day.
Science baffles me. I hated biology and I don’t remember if I even had chemistry. In college I had to take biology so I took it during the summer at Mammoth Spring through Ozarka? I made an A so that might tell you something about the rigor, ha. Needless to say, science isn’t my bag. AT ALL. I think that’s why I cringe when folks (with similar scientific knowledge as mine) are so quick to;
- Question science and discovery’
- Fall for treatments on facebook
- Believe in those profiting from illness
What has been my good fortune is incredibly complicated, intricate and specialized. It would be easy to declare it all a miracle.
And I do, I really do.
I just happen to believe the miracle came in the form of amazing humans and institutions who have discovered yet another way to fight this horrible disease.
A friend recently shared that she didn’t understand what was going on with me and my health…. so here’s the deal kids.
I’ve had 48 infusions of the immunotherapy drug Keytruda. Keytruda is a drug that targeted my specific lung tumors (there were 3) and my body responded very well. Amazingly well. Along with the immunotherapy I have had 48 infusions of Alimta which is a standard chemotherapy. There are definite side effects. Though none nearly as debilitating as standard chemo and for now they are manageable, albeit irritating.
This combination has resolved my lung tumors. My oncologist in Houston sees many lung cancer patients. He shares that I am one of the lucky ones. Many of his patients have not responded as well. He has been incredibly kind, knowledgeable and looks just like Pete Buttigieg. The medical folks in Houston AND in Jonesboro have been wonderful.
Thanks to the Gamma Knife procedure I had three years ago on my brain, my three lesions there are gone also. We don’t have any clue if or when they might return…but the one treatment was all I had on my brain. Docs aren’t sure if the immunotherapy reached the brain or not. Remember, it’s been three years…so there’s every reason to assume they are gone for good.
Since the immunotherapy is so new, there just aren’t enough statistics to be completely comfortable (at least for me) stopping treatment, so for now I will continue the 3 week regimen, test every 4 months in Houston and continue on…….I’ve set a 5 year goal and if I’m cancer free at that point I’ll consider it over.
So that’s my story.
Just to make things more interesting I am in need of a hip replacement. Yuck. Aren’t those for old people? Apparently I’m one of those now, ha. My hip has been a constant pain for years and years and has nothing to do with the cancer. Folks I have taught with can testify that I was struggling with my hip while teaching. Years of standing and teaching, lovely bus trips and such, have done the damage. I hope to now concentrate on moving on to surgery and being more mobile and comfortable.
And again….. I can’t quit writing without telling you the blessings I have received during these past three years. I know it sounds “holier than thou” but honestly, when I was diagnosed and thought time was short, one of things I prayed for most was for God to show me, teach me….make me a better person through the experience. And kids….. I have learned so much.
Can I list just a few?
- An overwhelming appreciation of friendships. Friends who were by my side (still are) and listened to me, prayed for me and ministered to my every need.
- An extreme love and prioritization of my family. A realization that every minute with them is a gift……….. along with the knowledge that next to salvation God’s greatest gift to me is a husband who loves me through it all….in sickness and in health.
- An acceptance of age and being human…..and yes, death.
- A greater examination of what I believe and why.
- A love for my church family and how it has grounded my faith for years… and continues to do so.
- An unfortunate impatience with those who don’t seem to have a moral code of any kind and those with misplaced priorities.
- A love of things God given…..nature, music, art and HUMOR.
And finally….. a desire to do my best to follow this commandment. The greatest commandment.
Matthew 22:36-40 King James Version
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.