Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Long River in Africa...denial.

My first selfie.  

Lake Tahoe from the top of a ski run.

     It's a strange thing...I know I have stage IV lung cancer, and I must be in some degree of denial. 

     Each winter, for the past 18 years, or so, my family and I have taken a vacation to the mountains to get several days of downhill skiing/snow boarding in.  Last winter was an exception.  A year ago I was in the throes of my lung cancer drama, too sick (and weak) to think about leaving my house.  

Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe
     This year has been much different. However, because of the metastatic disease in my bones, I couldn't get any of my many doctors to give their blessing about our plans to downhill ski.  Eventually they acquiesced and allowed me to exercise some patient autonomy because I assured them I'd be cautious.  All of my doctors also seemed to want be supportive to me, knowing how much we love snow sports.  I also realize that no doctor, in their right mind, would tell a stage IV cancer patient that downhill skiing is a good idea.  Of course, I don't want to break any bones.  The thought of it makes me crazy, but I was reassured that if I did, the fracture would eventually heal, although it would likely be a longer than usual recovery.  After weeks of mental gymnastics about the risk of a fracture verses the joy of skiing in Tahoe, I decided to chance it.  

Nina, Me, Mike, Ann
     At Wynn's suggestion, we opted to ski in the Sierra Mountains this year because they are at a little lower elevation than the Rockies, where we usually go. Because of his work schedule, Nathan didn't join us.  However, our travel buddies, Ann and Mike came.  If you haven't been to the Lake Tahoe area, put it on your bucket list.  It's  truly one of the most beautiful places in the world and one of my favorite places to be.  

Nina boarding at Heavenly
      We skied Heavenly Resort, which is amazing because you can ski and see Lake Tahoe at the same time. This region has been in the middle of a year-long drought, but the Sierras had a storm the week before we arrived and the snow conditions were much better than we expected.  

South Fork of the American River
     I am a little worried that I'm also losing credibility.  I really do have stage IV lung cancer.  I'm not a con artist.  I'm a lung cancer patient who is fortunate enough to get sick at a time when new cancer treatments are available and are covered by my insurance.  (More on that in another blog.)  I'm fortunate enough to be responding well to my treatments; so well that I get to ski.  Since the beginning of my cancer odyssey, my goal has been to live as "normally" as possible.  Skiing with my family is part of that effort. Either that, or I'm in massive denial. 

[P.S.  I had two falls.  One slow motion, tip-over and one genuine face-plant.  No breaks, no injuries.  Whew.]


Linda Smith said...

I was fighting against a cancer stage 4.I think it is very important that family support to win, because i was very weak;really helped me participate in one group of affected by cancer, so my mood improved, also helped me a lot a medical adviser in (they are doctors),this is important .I recomended not surrender, because sometimes the first treatment does not work as me, and sometimes change doctors it is necessary.Read positive thinking books gave me more energy.During my cancer,i changed my diet,now i eat vegetarian organic food(now i not eat meat).I think is a set of things that help.

Luna O. said...

I agree, Linda. To live with cancer as successfully as possible, I've found that I need to be positive, flexible, and accept that the only constant in my life is change.