Friends and Family,
Genevieve and I went to San Diego last Tuesday, and once again got the unbelievable good news that the cancer is still not growing! To put icing on the celebration cake, on July 10th, I reached an incredibly rare landmark for a lung cancer survivor. We celebrated my ten year cancerversary!
It's hard to believe that ten years ago I sent out my first deer-in-the-headlights email, shocked by the news that I had cancer. The treatment options were very limited back then: Chemo, and surgery to remove one of the lobes of my lungs. Radiation was also an option, but wouldn't have been useful in my situation. My expected lifespan at that time was measured in months, not years, and the odds of beating it were slim. Of course, it took more than treatment to get me through: There was – and is – love and support from family, friends, and of course Genevieve. She makes artwork designed to hit the optic nerve and bypass the rational mind to send healing. There is a crystal grid around our house. There is a purple healing plate to put my Tagrisso on. I could go on for another half-hour about all the things she does, but let's just say that we have different interpretations of what they all are doing for me. To me, they all boil down to love.
Exercise and diet also helped, and let's not forget attitude.
It started with this:
And went on to this.
That was a successful formula to keep me in remission for almost five years, until I was diagnosed again in 2011. How did I handle it the second time around? I doubled down on all of the things that were already working for me, and my attitude continued to improve. Now, I think a lot more about healing, both for myself and for others. And I have more capacity to do things for the benefit of others, like lobbying congress. Genevieve and I flew to Phoenix for some public speaking recently. I’m chairing the planning committee for a workshop for survivors and caregivers with the American Lung Association in Oregon. Mark your calendar: The Lung Force Expo is coming up November 4th.
I never forget that I have had the extraordinary good fortune of incredible timing. This time around, traditional chemo had no impact, and surgery wasn't an option, since the cancer was everywhere in my lungs. If this was 10 years ago and these treatments had no impact, I would no longer be alive.
Three of the four treatments that have kept me alive this time - Avastin ("chemo lite"), Tarceva, and AZD9291 (AKA Tagrisso) - weren't even available the first time around. Tarceva came on the market just months before I needed it. The AZD9291 clinical trial was available only weeks before I needed it, and closed two days after my first appointment. How lucky can one guy be?
So ten is my new lucky number. It’s not only the number of years I have stayed alive after this diagnosis. It’s also a good reminder of the incredible timing I’ve had so far. It feels like I’ve been riding a big wave, and needed that timing. If I crash, there are no second chances. If I got on too early, the wave would crash down on me. If I got on it too late, I’d miss it. If I don’t keep my balance, I’d be under water. What’s the surfer’s answer to this?