More Good News April 20, 2012

Friends and Family,

The latest CT scan results are in, and there has been no growth in the cancer. It’s the best news we could possibly have hoped for. In fact, I’m beginning to understand that it’s much better than we could have expected.

When I started Avastin, we asked Dr. Lopez-Chavez how long the drug usually holds the cancer at bay. He said that he has seen people remain stable for anywhere from two months to 20 months (since revised to 20 cycles, which is 14 months). That’s a lot more optimistic than adding, “but it usually only works for two months.” I got this last impression from the following abbreviated version of our last conversation:

Dr. L-C: “Still have the headaches?”
Me: “Yup.”
Dr. L-C: “How often?”
Me: “Almost all day, every day.”
Dr. L-C: “Why don’t we stop the Avastin for awhile and see if that gets rid of them?”
Me: “Nope.”
Dr. L-C: “Why not?”
Me: “Because unless the Tarceva (the next phase of treatment) is a complete cure, the Avastin is extending my life. I’ll take the headaches.”
Dr. L-C: “But the Avastin may not be doing anything.”
Me: “WHAT?????”
Dr. L-C: “The Avastin by itself usually only works for a couple of months. The cancer may have just stopped growing.”
Me: “WHAT?????”
Dr. L-C: “Sometimes it just does that.”
Me: “I’ll take the headaches rather than take my chances. I can live with headaches.”

This is how I came to believe that I may already be in the Bonus Round for Avastin. This has made me feel even more fortunate that it’s been almost five months without any growth of the cancer.

I don’t think that the cancer staying stable is by accident. I am grateful for all the good things in my life that I think are the reason for this success: Your thoughts and prayers; Genevieve (everything about her!), excellent medical care, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a positive attitude.

Sometimes friends don’t understand why I look healthy. How can I have Stage IV lung cancer when I don’t look any different? I have almost no symptoms. Some have even questioned whether the doctors got the diagnosis wrong. There’s no doubt about the diagnosis, but it’s the prognosis I’m trying to beat.

Genevieve and I have frequent discussions about this. She believes that I can beat it if I BELIEVE that I can beat it. I believe it may be possible to beat it, but that only part of what happens is within my control. To me the more important part is that I WANT to beat it. I will absolutely do everything I can within my control to make that happen. There are a lot of choices involved, and there is a commitment. I listen to myself more than I ever did, and try to make decisions that nourish my soul. I try to let go of the things I can’t control. The “letting go” takes a lot of pressure off, and that in itself is a step towards beating cancer.

There are times when I am pretty confident that I can outrun cancer for a year, or a few years, or maybe even until I die of old age. And there are other moments when the thought of death overwhelms me, and I am filled with terror. I have found that this passes quickly if I don’t hide from it. Then I can move on to the positives.

After I went through the cancer the first time, I used to tell people, “except for the near-death part, it was an exhilarating experience.” The same is true this time around. I live much more consciously when time is a precious commodity.

I hope you don't wait for the added motivation to make every day of your life count. One way or another, tell the people that you care about that you love them. In the end, what else matters?

Consider yourself told.