September Scare

Friends and Family,

It's that scary time of the year again. No, I don't mean it's time to go back to school. It's the scary anniversary time.

Nine years ago, close to this time of year, I went in for an X-ray of a sore back. The X-ray was photo-bombed by a tumor in my lungs, so I started chemo, and had the offending tumor and the lobe around it removed.

Five years ago, close to this time of year, we were happily enjoying almost five years of my being cancer-free, when a routine scan showed that the culprit had returned - in spades. The inside of my lungs looked like fireworks had gone off everywhere. There was too much to remove, but with multiple treatments, we kept it at bay, and even shrunk it.

Last year, at about this time of year, Tarceva stopped working, and the cancer started growing again. My own oncologist could see no good treatment options. I will say this: He should never play poker. It's a good thing I found the AZD9291 clinical trial without his help.

So, after getting bad news in three different years at the same time of year, Genevieve and I were having one of the worst cases of scanxiety we've had since almost the very beginning of this ride. Compounding the fears, results are now being published about how long AZD9291 typically works, and it's usually just about as long as I have now been on it.

Throwing me further off balance, my buddy Craig Blower has had continued slow growth of his cancer while on the same drug as I am. I'm still on the edge of my seat waiting to find out how his last scans turned out. Meanwhile, Kim, a fellow Portland lung cancer blogger that I met at the HOPE Summit in May, is going through brain radiation. Compassion is not serving me well as I worry about these two, and my concern for them hits a little too close to the bone. 

Yes, we panicked a little. Rather, Genevieve panicked a little, while I was ping-ponging wildly between confidently believing that I'm going to be around until I'm 90, and worrying that I will be in hospice within a year. 

That makes the results from last week's scan all the sweeter. Yes, there has been no growth in the cancer! Now I'm SURE I'm going to live until I'm 90! least until the next scan. 

So what have I learned from this? There are limits to what living in the present can do. Realistic fears are still going to creep in from time to time, and maybe that's not such a bad thing. Sharing our fears has brought Genevieve and me even closer, which helps me to not feel so alone dealing with this. Sharing with you helps in the same way. It also puts me in touch with my own humanity. All my hopes and fears bubble to the surface and remind me that I am alive, and how much I value this life that I have. 

I hope you are in touch with the treasures in your own life. Maybe you can pull it off without a heaping dose of fear.

That would be pretty great, wouldn't it?