Moving on with moving on . . .

4 Oct

I was on Facebook earlier today and updated my new status to: “Yay, it is Tuesday night!” . . . It was Monday night . . . oops. 🙂

Okay, so I am still a little out of it since surgery. Maybe it is the occasional vicodin that I take for the pain (I can supposedly take one vicodin every four hours . . .yikes). I take it very sparingly . . . if you’ve followed my blog much, you’ll know that I really do not like taking medication. But, pain is pain, so sometimes I take a pill. Still, I am so pleased with this post surgery recovery as I have had so little pain . . . compared to prior surgeries. It is a real relief to be so far along this soon after surgery. I am so grateful.

Still, out of it enough to not know what day of the week it is 🙂

So, the real reason I am blogging right now . . .

A very close friend of mine asked me today why it is that some people say that they are in remission. My friend was pretty much trying to figure out why it is that I do not say I am in remission . . . why my oncologist does not refer to my current status as “remission”, but, instead, considers me “cured”.  I didn’t really have an answer for my friend. I know why he is asking, he is worried. The headache thing perhaps, the fact that I am going to have a scan sometime soon, perhaps . . . I don’t know.

But, I didn’t have a way to answer his question very well. I stumbled along in such a way which almost made it sound as if I were trying to cover something up.

It has been a long time since I have been in the “reassuring” my friends or family mode (which really is just a way of reassuring myself . . . if I can convince everyone else I am going to be fine, then maybe I will start to believe it).  I guess I just wasn’t prepared. I heard my poorly formed sentences come out of my mouth and watched his face sort of wilt a bit. What could I do? I was tired. The question came as a surprise to me. But, a fair and reasonable question all the same.

I don’t use the word cured much, especially around my friends who have cancer or who have had cancer. I think I am afraid to use it for fear that someone will challenge it, tell me that the correct term is “remission”.  But, I also refrain from using it in that setting because some of my friends are battling cancer right now and for some it is their second or third time they have done battle.

While I don’t use the word a whole lot, I don’t question it either. My oncologist used it and I didn’t press her on it. I didn’t respond with my usual deluge of questions (sometimes I don’t know how she puts up with me). I did ask her to repeat what she had said . . . “We don’t usually continue with those tests in a person like you who we consider cured . . . ”

That is what she said, that she considers me cured.  Cured.  I grabbed onto that word.  I cling to it . . . and, yes, I know that my doctor is not God and is not a fortune teller. She is a scientist (truly, she is one). And she is compassionate, smart and she knows me pretty well. She knows that I am aware that she is not God, that there are  no guarantees and that it would do me a lot of good to believe that I am cured, to hear those words, to relax a bit. I am not suggesting that she lied to me. I just think she knows me well enough to know that she can say what she thinks . . . she thinks I am cured.

Back to my friend. I didn’t know what to say. The question really caught me off guard and, as I said, that made my response seem dishonest somehow. At least that is what I think it seemed like.

I have known from day one of this cancer roller coaster that my life would never be the same again. But, as I move onto moving on with my life I find myself stumbling so often . . . so often I am unprepared for those reasonable questions. It comes up in my work life (not that I have much of one again yet, but, I am working on trying to) and it comes up in my personal life. I just find myself stepping into situations for which I am totally unprepared. You open a door that you think you have opened before . . . but, this time what is on the other side is completely different.

7 Responses to “Moving on with moving on . . .”

  1. Shelly Haas October 5, 2010 at 5:16 AM #

    There is something deeply empowering and uplifting in the word “cure” or status of “cured”. In a sense even though so much more in life, now, is labeled carcinogenic; that is a reality that has been coming into focus for many years. It is amazing that ‘cured’ is now a status that exists after cancer. I hope that in coming years the word remission can be replaced completely. It has always struck me as a word that offered surviving as an ultimate rather than the thriving that is expressed with cure. Congratulations Lisa. May the coming weeks and years continue to bless you with affirmation, love, and strength.
    X0~Shelly

  2. Sandy October 5, 2010 at 7:08 AM #

    I second everything Shelly said, especially the part about thriving rather than surviving. Go out and thrive!

    Love,
    Sandy

  3. cancerfree2b October 5, 2010 at 7:12 AM #

    Dear cousin Shelly,

    Thank you for your message.

    It is pretty great to hear the word cured. There is a link to an article about cancers that can be cured. The kind of cancer I had was HER2 positive and ER positive (estrogen responsive). Both of these are types of breast cancers that can be cured. I am fortunate to be in that category. Prior to the development of Herceptin, HER2 positive cancers did not have a good outcome. HER2 positive cancer is aggressive and has a pretty high recurrence rate. But, since Herceptin, this cancer is now cure-able . . . pretty amazing.

    When breast cancer is ER positive it means that the cancer grows in the presence of estrogen. As a result, recurrence rates of ER positive breast cancer can be reduced by as much as fifty percent by taking Tamoixifen (a drug that blocks estrogen).

    If you get a chance, there are a lot of Youtube videos of the man who developed Herceptin – Dr. Slamon at UCLA. I have watched a few and it is pretty amazing.

    There is also a movie called “Living Proof” that is about Dr. Slamon’s struggle to get Herceptin FDA approved. It is a dramatization, but, does include women (actors) who play the part of women who participated in the early clinical trials. I have not seen the movie . . . and probably won’t (I hear it is pretty tough to watch if you are HER2 positive).

    Part of me really wants to see it. I have put it in my netflix que many times . . . but, I keep chickening out. I hear it is a pretty touching portrayal . . . there are women who gave the last days of their lives to participate in those early clinical trials for the very point of being able to help someone like me. And, there are women who were stage IV who participated in early trials who are now still alive 15 and 16 years later. That is incredible really. These women have to remain on Herceptin for the rest of their lives . . . but, they have a life. And, prior to Dr. Slamon developing Herceptin, these women did not have much of a chance.

    Sorry for the ramble 🙂

    Thank you for your messages Shelly (I think I still owe you an email reply. It always does me good to hear from family and friends. I hope that my slow replies do not suggest otherwise.

    Much love,
    Lisa

  4. cancerfree2b October 5, 2010 at 7:17 AM #

    Good morning Sandy!

    Thank you for your message. And now that I have already written one novel (it is called “comment” for a reason I suppose :)) I will keep THIS reply brief 🙂

    I hope you are having a great morning. If you are free on Thursday and want to go to that same place for lunch (my parents treat this time . . . they said so :)) I am in need of a ride up to Cedars Sinai Thursday. I will put it out there today and see who might be able to take me up there. But, thought I would see if you were interested . . . I know, it is hard to turn down driving up and back to Los Angeles . . .isn’t it? Ha, ha, ha . . .

    But, that lunch spot was really, really good, wasn’t it?

    In any case, I hope to see you soon. Maybe we can go walking this week or next. Or, we can go eat at Supermex . . . I forgot to tell you that there is one just a couple of miles from me in Cypress.

    Much love,

    Lisa

    • Sandy October 5, 2010 at 12:28 PM #

      Sure, Lisa! Let me know what time to pick you up on Thursday. It will be great to see you!

      Love,
      Sandy

  5. cancerfree2b October 5, 2010 at 4:57 PM #

    Awe Sandy, you are the best!

    I will call you, but, in case you see this first . . . my appointment is at 10:00 am (you can still back out :)). I think if we leave by 8:20 am we should be fine. I am thinking, however, that I will go ahead and look for a route that could take advantage of carpool lanes. Also, thinking about lunch, maybe I can get a slightly later appointment on that day (I will call tomorrow and ask). At the time I made the appointment, it was the only time that my surgeon had available. However, they have now told me I am meeting with one of his associates instead as my surgeon is out of town unexpectedly. So, I am thinking that I could probably talk them into a slightly later appointment. Sorry for any confusion.

    Let’s do this, plan on leaving by 9:20 am. But, I will confirm that tomorrow after seeing if I can get a slightly later appointment time.

    Thank yo so much!!! I suppose we could do brunch if we end up stuck with the 10:00 am appointment time.

    Talk to you very soon!

    Much love,
    Lisa

  6. Sandy October 5, 2010 at 7:50 PM #

    Lisa,

    No worries over lunch. You don’t have to bribe me with food. 🙂 Call me tomorrow when you have the finalized appointment time.

    Love,
    Sandy

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