Reminding Myself of What I Already Know

I participate a bit in a few cancer forums. The CSN forums has an active and awesome community for head and neck cancer, and it was a huge help last time… but its lung cancer forums are less active. I found two others that so far seem to be good communities: Inspire and Lungevity.

I mention forums because after I said the statistics on lung cancer were troublesome, someone on the forum suggested Stephen Jay Gould’s article The Median Isn’t The Message to me. That was one of the very first blogs I posted last time I had cancer, and I used it as a part of an article I wrote for Gamasutra called The Metrics Aren’t The Message (and its follow up, Hope Is The Message).

Yet somehow I lost track of the point of that article. In fact, I lost many things I learned last time because of fear, plain and simple. I let fear of possible outcomes overwhelm what I believe and what I know. I’ll forgive myself for it because I’ve lost so many family members to lung cancer (both grandfathers within a month of each other when I was 8, my uncle and recently my mother) that it’s understandable why it would create so much fear. But there has to be a point where I stand up and say, “No. I’m not going to let fear dictate my behavior or run my life.”

It’s compounded by what used to be a nausea phobia, but is now just nausea anxiety. Going through the intense nausea of the last cancer treatment was a sort of unofficial systematic desensitization–not enough to completely get rid of the fear, but enough to knock it down a bit. I’ve been worried about the higher dose chemo I have tomorrow even though I’ve been through chemo so much before.

Being anxious about it won’t help–in fact, it makes it worse. I know the chemo tomorrow is going to be fine–in fact, it will be uneventful and kind of boring (chemo always is). We’re trying a brand new drug called Varubi for nausea–it was just approved by the FDA last September. Assuming it arrives in time for my chemo, it and other medications will take care of any nausea. I’ll feel fine for the day of chemo and fine for a few days after and then I’ll feel fatigued and crappy for a few days and then it will be done. Three weeks later I’ll do it again, and then I’ll really be done.

It’s far too easy to let the what-ifs in life get the best of us. I tend to be a forward-looking person so I spend a good deal of my time thinking through what-ifs, usually from a more positive perspective. It’s hard living with uncertainty. The honest truth, though, is that we all live with uncertainty every day–we just choose not to think about it that way.

I’m going to work to regain my focus. I’m not quite ready yet to regain my drive, and when I’m going through treatments isn’t the time to do that anyway. That time will come, though.


Related Posts

Be Your Own Advocate

I routinely encounter folks dealing with serious illness (mostly cancer, in my circumstances) who accept whatever the first doctor they meet tells them, even if what they’re told is that there is no hope. I

Read More »

Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month

April is head and neck cancer awareness month! Be aware of the causes and symptoms, summarized in the graphic at the bottom. For me, it was a swollen lymph node below my jaw that didn’t

Read More »

Clinical Trial Math

Clinical trial math example: Monday + every two months = time to start worrying about my scan the following Monday. Tuesday + pain below my right ribs = worry about that AND the scan the

Read More »

My Best Days Are Ahead Of Me

Last year, I was in the hospital from chemo for my birthday, not knowing the cancer would blossom again months later. This year, I’m walking around San Francisco–short of breath sometimes, but walking–looking forward to

Read More »

Unpredictability and Patterns

The every-other-week treatment schedule has become habit at this point. In at 7:45 am, IV and blood draw, discussion with the trial nurse, meet with Dr. Ani, get the blood test results, then infusion and

Read More »

Speaking Out and its Price

I’m exhausted and stressed and sad and angry. I try to keep my posts here focused and positive, but it’s really hard at this point. I was contacted last week by the Organizing Director of

Read More »