Early on in my cancer journey was a very scary and confusing time for me. I was being forced to learn information I didn’t want to know. I had many questions and was so fearful of the answers. Some questions I asked or looked up right away, while others I decided not to search because I knew I was unprepared for the answers. A close relative and an old family friend talked or asked about ‘when (I) die’ and ‘how long’ I had, which was extremely difficult and painful to deal with within the first few weeks. It has now been about 4 months since I was found to have cancer. I still sometimes feel like I’m in the middle of a nightmare and will soon wake up.
Four months from diagnosis is a poignant time marker for me. One of the questions I searched, with great trepidation several weeks after my diagnosis was established, was “How long do people with stage 4 adenocarcinoma of the lung live?” I found two answers online. One online source said, “Six to 12-months” and another said, “The median life expectancy is eight months,” meaning that at eight months after diagnosis half the patients are alive, the other half are dead. Being at four months feels like being somewhere around ½-way to these online predictions.
No doubt, these past four months have been, physically and emotionally, the most difficult months of my life. Not only have I been through the wringer, but my illness and treatments have put everyone close to me through the wringer, too. It continues to be so painful to watch my husband, children, mother, extended family and friends walk this journey along side of me.
However, despite the deadlines I found online, (pun intended), I don’t feel like I’m halfway to the end. I feel healthy and strong enough to go on for much longer. My oncologist has always talked about being in treatment in terms of years…not months. He tells me that with the new treatments now available, life expectancy for patients like me can be measured in years.
These past four months have also demonstrated to me the power and strength of the mind, body and spirit triad. I’ve always felt the need to nurture each component, equally, because I feel they are all equally important to being a healthy, well-balanced woman. What I have learned during the first four months of my journey is that having nurtured all parts of the triad and working to try to make each part as strong as possible, when one component was letting me down…my body… the other two parts were able to step in to assist. At a time when I was so worried that my body was going to fail me all together, my mind and spirit told me that I needed to face my cancer challenge, head on. My mind and spirit reminded me that my fight wasn’t just for me, but also for Wynn, Nathan, and Nina. My mind and spirit reminded me that I still have unmet dreams.
I'd really hate to jinx myself by saying that my body has been feeling stronger the last couple of weeks. This strength brings energy, and relief, to my mind and spirit, (which have been working overtime lately.) Although I won’t know for sure until my next CT scans, I believe my oral chemo is helping me move toward the mind, body and spirit balance I always want.