My doctors’ appointment with the lung surgeon, lung oncologist and radiation oncologist at Dana Faber went pretty well yesterday, considering I was nervously awaiting the verdict: to have a lung lobectomy or not.
The decision was actually made three months ago to have extra chemo and radiation instead so that I could have the pancreas tumor removed. They felt that the pancreatic tumor had the more serious prognosis and needed treatment ASAP. It turns out that the pancreas tumor shrunk after having chemo and that surgeon didn’t want to remove it. Last week, I had a second opinion appointment with another pancreatic surgeon at MGH who feared that the lung cancer could have a more serious prognosis than the pancreatic tumor and questioned that decision made three months ago to not have lung surgery. So there I was, again discussing a course of action and wondering if it’s too late to have the surgery now.
It turns out that I missed the boat on getting any benefit from having lung surgery because they’re not able to remove any lymph nodes from my chest now since I had six extra radiation treatments. According to my doctors “the lymph nodes have been melted and scarred down. Besides, what is left of the lung tumor looks like there are no live cancer cells”, they tell me.
They assure me that I still have a 40 percent chance of cure with that decision made three months ago to have extra chemo and radiation. And they make me feel even better when they told me that my good response in the degree of tumor shrinkage is far beyond the norm.
My daughter Karen and I leave there with half smiles and no tears. We feel encouraged, relieved and most of all – once again hopeful.
That’s the thing about navigating through the twists and turns of a cancer experience. Not only are we involuntarily turned this way and that with each new bundle of information, but we’re also forcefully propelled up or down. Feelings ripped from our guts and hearts push and pull us along over mountains and through valleys.
Our choices are few. We can stay the course, change it or fall off. For me, the amount of energy I have at any given time keeps me fluctuating between all three. I’m fortunate to have my daughter’s strength behind and ahead of me. She picks me up and keeps me going even when I’m so tired. Her questions are unrelenting and when I want to stick my head in the sand, she pulls it out. Her petite body holds a warrior’s power. She’s a rock, and I’m so blessed to have her. Knowing that she is capable with the inner qualities needed to carry her through a really tough life challenge, gives me a sense of peace as a mother. I know that she doesn’t always need my protection – she can be the strong one too. I see just how competent and adult she is. Yes, this is another unexpected yet wonderful gift in the midst of such turmoil — another Lesson from Cancer.