Jul 02, 2004 - 8:35 pm
Hi, I'm Elizabeth, 52 years old. A year ago I was diagnosed with colon cancer stage 4. Long story short: Sigmoid out, colostomy in, mets to both lobes of the liver, to the lymphs and lower pelvis. We were left with chemo as the only treatment option due to adhesions in the abdomen from rads I had for childhood cancer (that one I beat!) and the widespread involvement of the liver.
At this point I must say what all of you already know: that a diagnosis like this turns your life on a dime. Whatever you were doing before, you become a full time cancer patient and you life is not the same anymore. The people you care about also have to come to terms with your illness and the ultimate outcome.
During the past year my scans have shown no progression or new lesions, so the chemo appears to be holding the status quo. However, the treatments have been very difficult and I have had many side effects and trips to the ER. The worst was pulmonary embolisms which could have proved fatal for which I am taking blood thinner via daily self-injection. Most recent complication has been bone loss which led to a spontaneous fracture of a rib. I was given Zometa which also had very unpleasant side effects.
My doctor has been honest with me, saying there is no likelyhood of a cure in my case because of the advanced nature of it. However he has offered me every opportunity to treat it aggressively and with the newest medicines. I am on Avastin now, and still holding my own.
I have read posts here where patients report stage IV cancers in remission. This is very hopeful to see that even hopeless cases can be turned around. I want to believe that remission is possible even for me. So far, tho, my response to treatment has only been to hold off the cancer progression for the time being. Each time I do a two month CT scan I brace myself for the results, knowing that at any time I may receive bad news. This has become a way of life.
Humor, attitude, faith and perseverance have been the only real weapons I have to keep going. Feeling bad is demoralizing and feels good when it stops. Most of my discomfort has been from the treatments themselves, which sometimes makes me wonder why I am going thru with it. My doctor says the treatments in my case are palliative and completely my choice to do them or not. That empowers me to do what I think is best and so, mentally at least, I am more willing to take my medicine than if it were being "forced" on me. I call the shots. (Excuse the pun.)
People, knowing I am sick, keep telling me how GREAT I look. Isn't it funny, they never used to tell me how great I looked before... So I answer, Yes I sure do, in fact, I look alot better than my chart! I talk honestly about my condition and find myself pep-talking the people around me, that I am in good spirits and doing fine. It is also interesting that, since I became "cancer aware" I am realizing how many of the people I know have dealt with cancer in their lives. This has been a huge learning experience for me, that cancer touches so many.
It is difficult to hold onto Hope for myself. So I hope for better days, for my family and friends to move on and know happiness, for more time with them, for better medicines and a cure someday. I hope someone can give me hope with more information about treatments or experiences they've had beating this thing.
With respect for all of you, Elizabeth