The months have flown by since my husband’s diagnosis. Everything has changed and yet nothing has changed. Unfortunately with cancer you tend to live in the world of unknowns which can spin your mind whether you want it to or not.
When he was first diagnosed with cancer, my husband was given some options. He was offered radiation to stop the spread of the cancer in his bones – which he agreed to. At our intake meeting we were told that with radiation there is always the option to do more if it is required. In our case five sessions were fine. My husband was offered the option to try chemotherapy. The Oncologist discussed how the treatments would work and, based on my husband’s condition at intake, what it should provide. If effective, the chemo should provide enhanced quality of life for a slightly (a matter of months) prolonged period. To date he has had three rounds of chemotherapy and received some excellent results. Last night I asked my husband about his choices and why and what his present state of mind was. I know he has been preoccupied because of his sister, but I also wanted to know how he was feeling about himself.
First and foremost he does not regret any of the choices he has made to date. He finds the chemo tough, no doubt about it, but it’s those first two or three days after that are the toughest. There are side effects, like the change of taste, that bother him but the further away from the treatment he gets the better things are. He had other side effects that were likely associated with his pre-chemo level of health (i.e. diabetic type 2, stroke survivor) that were likely the most discouraging. His advice to our children – make lifestyle changes now. Secondly he believes that cancer is still elusive to the medical profession. They don’t understand it completely and consequently can’t predict how an individual will respond to treatment. The medical professionals can give you statistically based information but they don’t know the spirit of an individual. When he was given his first prognosis of 3 – 6 months without treatment, 8 – 14 with treatment, and even before he started chemo, he looked at me and said “I’ll easily double that.”
With respect to his current state of mind, this continues to be a difficult journey because of the unknowns. At the outset of all treatment plans he was told he was terminal and all care was palliative, that he would never go into remission. He has however, had some very good results with the chemotherapy related to his lungs. We continue to await the results of a CT scan taken on Sunday to get a current assessment on his lungs. If the cancer has effectively gone from his lungs – then where is he? If he’s not in remission, what state is he in? What does this mean for the future and what can we expect? What does this mean for his original prognosis from a time perspective?
I believe that we have an appointment with Oncology next week, no one has called but I suspect that’s coming. Likely the doctor will review the results of the CT scan as well as a pulmonary function test that my husband will have this Friday. I don’t think I will wait until next week to get the results of the scan, I will call them this morning. The psychology of cancer is the most challenging, takes you back to when you were a small child afraid of the bogeyman – you couldn’t see anything but the fear was real.