Since returning from my medical and holiday travels a few people have inquired, “So now, what is your status?” Ah, what a relevant question. Despite blogging, or maybe because of blogging, readers have been stuck on the same fast moving rollercoaster of highs, lows and plateaus as the patient, me. As we close out 2013, let me do my own little summary.
I close the year with apparent stability in my cancer. Stable is a very good word for a metastatic cancer patient living in treatment. Stable is my best bridge available to the next test results, especially given that I currently have some inconsistent results. Stable is a concept I intend to enjoy until the next round of internal tests in mid March.
Stability was my dream for 2012. That was a truly rocky year of new treatment regimes being met by new cancer growth, not a reality that can be sustained. A hard fought for surgery yielded better then anticipated results (bye-bye 10 cm of cancer) followed by a low dose chemo regime that finally reduced my remaining cancer bringing me to a start of 2013 where stability seemed possible.
2013 was a fairly easy year. I experienced the expertise and comforts of OHSU, enjoyed the easiest chemo protocol yet as I chipped away at the criteria to allow entry into the UPenn immunology trial. In early April a friend met me in Philadelphia for an intake visit that lead to my enrollment in the trial with treatment starting the first week of June 2013. Testing in January, May and September of 2013 was all relatively calm given the comforting lab results I was getting every three weeks. I was stable.
This fall, of course, began a rise in lab results and the pronouncement of new cancer and ascites (fluid in the pelvis) in the initial December scan, fast rectified by further scans and a lovely bit of holiday cheer. Who knows what is real?
I end 2013 ever aware that I reside on a cliff’s edge. I place my foot down with family and friends cheering me on and a stellar medical team leading the process. But it is my foot touching down on whatever loose rocks or solid earth is destined to be next. I could plummet or I could close out 2014 boringly stable. We all find out together.
I am proud I met my own goal to make 2013 a year I regained some sort of larger life. I focused on my Open Society Fellowship production of a how-to manual on organizing – the final completion date is this June. I was interviewed for a national magazine article covering creative approaches to community organizing. And, I started a blog called Livingly Dying that has had 17,827 visitors from 82 countries. I plan to continue these projects, tucked in meaningfully between the more mundane full time job of staying alive.
May my 2014 be a very, very long and stable year and may yours be whatever you seek.