Soooo at the beginning of June I was diagnosed with colon cancer, which had metastasized* into my lungs and possibly my liver.
Because it’s spread so far (and mostly to my lungs), it’s considered incurable, and I’m not currently considered a candidate for surgery. Basically they could cut the tumor out, but it would just grow back somewhere else since it’s already taken the Lymphatic Express all the way up to Lungland.** They have given me some radiation treatment to shrink the main tumor (which was coming close to closing off my colon entirely. This would have been Bad.) and I’m also doing chemotherapy, so as to give me as much time as possible.
Q: Is this gonna kill you? If so, when?
A: Probably. The 50/50 (half the patients alive, half dead) for my particular kind of tumor is at about 3 years after diagnosis; the odds of living 5 years after is just under 1 in 8. It’s possible that if the chemo works really really well they’ll consider surgery to get the rest of it, but there’s no guarantee (and, as stated above, no guarantee it wouldn’t come back). Colon cancer likes to metastasize to the lungs and to the liver; unfortunately liver is much, much more operable than lungs are, so bad luck me.
Q: What’s it like?
A: The cancer itself is, at this point, not horrible. The radiation and the chemotherapy, however, are pretty bad. Radiation made me so weak it was hard to get out of bed, and the chemo makes me throw up every hour and a half for 2-3 days. (Fortunately, they’ve found an anti-emetic that seems to be working, and just has me nauseated for the 2-3 days. Slightly better.)
Q: Do you have insurance?
A: Yes, thank goodness. I’ve got Kaiser HMO, which means I can’t doctor-shop as much as I could otherwise - but it also means that I don’t need to worry about whether a treatment or doctor or lab or pharmacy or whatever is in-network - if they prescribe it, it’s authorized, and it’s $15 a visit.
Q: Are you scared?
A: Hell yes! But not really? Kinda, most of the time? I’m worried about the people around me - my husband, mostly, but also my parents, my brother, my niece, my friends. Death is never pretty and rarely fun***, but in a way it’s kind of a relief to know that I won’t have to go through the whole “aging and watching your body fall apart over the course of 40-50 years” thing - instead it’ll be accelerated, and over with faster. That’s a weird thing to take comfort in, I know, but I’ve always been sort of cheerfully nihilistic. In the words of one of the great philosophers of our time:
Q: How old are you? Do you have kids?
A: I’ll be 45 in December. No kids. We tried really hard for them, spent a lot of money on it, but no luck. I’m not sure if I’m glad, now, that we’d failed.
Q: Are you still working?
A: Yep! I’m lucky enough to have a job in civil service, so I’ve got not only decent insurance but a lot of sick/vacation days saved up and a union that will help me out with keeping my job as long as I can. Which is what I need to do, since I’m the sole support for Husband and I. I’m currently missing a bit of time for doctors’ visits (not as frequent as when I was first diagnosed) and 2-3 days every 3 weeks for my chemo, but other than that I’m still chugging along like normal.
Q: Have you lost your hair?
A: No, and they tell me I probably won’t, with my current chemo meds. My hair has definitely thinned a bit :mad:**** but is unlikely to go away. If it does, however, I plan to go to Little Tokyo and pick up all the cool blue, green, pink, etc cosplay wigs I can find, so I can match 'em to my outfits. Because reasons.
A: First off, that’s not a question. :smack: Second off, no, I’m really not. I’m just going along. I’m not particularly “Fighting this thing!” - I’m just doing my best to make the time I’ve got as enjoyable as possible. I have bad days, I have times I just want to cry and hold on to my sweetie forever, I have days when I’m so fucking tired of throwing up that I seriously wonder whether the chemo is even worth it. Eventually it probably won’t be, and at that point I’ll stop treatment or end things on my own. But it ain’t bravery to just do what needs done, which is where I’m at right now. Do what needs done, ask for help when I need it, but don’t ask nor accept it when I don’t.*****
*This is a really hard word to say, and even harder to spell correctly. Go ahead, try.
**As my SAT prep class might have put it - The lymphatic system:Cancer::The 5 Freeway:California. A great way to get from one point to a much more distant point quickly and with a minimum of traffic.
***The only way I can see that death could be fun would be an opiate OD, and I’m not real sure about that one.
****As if it weren’t thin enough already. I have fine, straight, light-colored hair and I NEED EVERY FOLLICLE I CAN GET to give me some semblance of volume.
*****Yes, despite being hella Californian, I am from Midwestern farmer stock. Does it show?